Thursday, February 14, 2008

Latinos and Blacks

With Texas coming up and again a lot of talk about the Clintons and Latino voters and the relationship of Latinos and African Americans I want to highlight the January 28 column of Gregory Rodriguez from the LATs.

Rodriquez took exception to the Clinton pollster Sergio Bendixen's suggestion that Latino voters have “not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” Bendixen was saying publicly what the Clintons' people were whispering for months and the result was to get talking heads to start spreading the misinformation which they did (Tucker Carlson, "Hardball," NPR).

The problem, Rodriquez says, is that the statement is not true.
[....]the evidence is overwhelming enough to make you wonder why in the world the Clinton campaign would want to portray Latino voters as too unrelentingly racist to vote for Barack Obama.

University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto has compiled a list of black big-city mayors who have received broad Latino support over the last several decades. In 1983, Harold Washington pulled 80% of the Latino vote in Chicago. David Dinkins won 73% in New York in 1989. And Denver's Wellington Webb garnered more than 70% in 1991, as did Ron Kirk in Dallas in 1995 and then again in 1997 and 1999.

He could have also added that longtime Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley won a healthy chunk of the Latino vote in 1973 and then the clear majority in his mayoral reelection campaigns of 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1989.

Here in L.A., all three black members of Congress represent heavily Latino districts and ultimately couldn't survive without significant Latino support. Five other black House members represent districts that are more than 25% Latino -- including New York's Charles Rangel and Texan Al Green -- and are also heavily dependent on Latino voters.
A skeptical Rodriquez concludes,
At the Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, Tim Russert asked Clinton whether the New Yorker quote represented the view of her campaign. "No, he was making a historical statement," she said. "And, obviously, what we're trying to do is bring America together so that everybody feels like they're involved and they have a stake in the future."


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