Sanders’ “Tenemos Familias” Ad: A Latino Face on Inequality

By DrVMDS on March 12, 2016

This piece first appeared on NBCnews.com

About fifteen seconds into Bernie Sanders’ Tenemos Familias ad you start to feel the lump in your throat. We see the images of a young mother with her children in living conditions most would assume to be in the third world but are actually here in the United States.

For the next five minutes we learn about the farm labor struggle of the tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida. We see it through the eyes of Udelia–a working mother, a Latina, and an immigrant. The narration of the David and Goliath story coupled with the documentary quality of the ad packs a one-two emotional punch.

At first sight this ad comes across as a powerful Latino targeted ad. It highlights immigration, family, and Florida, to boot.

But this ad’s message is much broader – going beyond the issue of immigration.

The docu-ad provides the account of how in 2008 when the tomato pickers were first fighting for increased wages and improved working conditions Sanders went down to Immokalee. He then came back to Washington D.C. where he held hearings on the issue. The political pressure spurred by Sanders coupled with the public support for the pickers led improvements for the workers. Continue Reading

Mapping the Latino Vote on Super Tuesday

By DrVMDS on February 29, 2016

This piece first appeared on NBCnews.com

Super Tuesday is do or die, with over a quarter of pledged delegates at stake for each party. Iowa and New Hampshire may be the electoral contests that produce viable candidates, but Super Tuesday is the kingmaker (or queenmaker this year). But beyond the electoral bulk of March 1st the primaries will give us important indicators about Latino political preferences.

Latinos in Texas are in the spotlight, but the growing role of Hispanics in other Super Tuesday states give us a sense of how the Latino voice is shaping up for the 2016 presidential election and beyond.

Texas – the 800 pound gorilla

Come November Texas (at least for now) is irrelevant because it is such a deep red state. But the Lone Star state makes up for that irrelevance in its giant footprint on Super Tuesday. Texas has the most delegates up for grabs and it is the state with the largest Latino electorate on Super Tuesday. Texas has the second largest Latino population and nearly 30 percent of the state’s eligible voters are Hispanic. Continue Reading

Post MSNBC Town Hall Analysis w/Rachel Maddow

By DrVMDS on February 19, 2016

The Caucus is Coming: Here Are Some Facts About Nevada’s Latinos

By DrVMDS on February 18, 2016

This piece first appeared on NBCnews.com

Iowa and New Hampshire have a number of virtues, electoral diversity isn’t one of them. The lack of diversity in the first two nominating contests makes Nevada’s upcoming caucus all the more relevant, especially for Latinos. The Silver state is just a few percentage points shy of becoming a majority-minority state and has one of the largest Latino shares of the state population making up 28 of the population.

Nevada has a large and growing Latino population. But beyond its demographics the state has become ground zero for a maturing Latino political voice -both among Democrats and Republicans. Going into this weekend’s Democratic caucus and next week’s Republican Caucus here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the first nominating contest that trains the spotlight on the nation’s largest minority.

1. Latino Presence – Old and New

Not all Latinos (or their ancestors) crossed the border, for some the border crossed them. Nevada was originally part of Mexico, becoming a U.S. territory after the Mexican-American War. There are deep Latino roots in the Silver State. At the same time, the last 30 years has seen a rapid increase in Latinos. From 2000-2010 the Latino population grew by over 80 percent and as a result accounted for almost half of the state’s overall population growth.

2. An Eligible Voter Boom.

Not surprisingly, the growth of eligible voters has followed behind Nevada’s Latino population growth. There was a lag since the first large immigrant waves were not naturalized citizens and thus ineligible to vote. By the 2008 election the Nevada Latino electorate had started to make its mark at 15 percent of Nevada’s voters. And in the last eight years there has been an increase of 70 percent in the Latino eligible voter electorate – they now make up about 17 percent of the prospective voters. And with the high number of millennials the electoral footprint of the community will not be slowing down anytime soon. Continue Reading

The Republican ‘Elefante’ in the Room

By DrVMDS on February 9, 2016

This piece first appeared on NBCnews.com

The election of the first Latino president (or vice president) is as close as ever, yet he/she could likely hail from the Republican Party. This is an uncomfortable truth for Latinos and trains the spotlight on a big elefante in the room.

Republican Latinos are seen as traitors or vendidos (sellouts). However, the majority of non-Republican Latinos willfully ignore the ideological diversity of our community.

We often hear that Democratic Latinos outnumber Republicans by two to one. This figure is misleading because it includes “leaners.” Leaners are Independents who are asked what party they would lean toward. Taking out the “leaner” Latinos, most Latinos, 44 percent, self-identify as Independent. The aggregate figures that are usually cited hide the truly Independent nature of Latinos. This independence is seen in instances such as the 2004 election when Republican President George W. Bush received over 40 percent of the Latino vote.

There’s a reason Latinos are considered swing voters. They have demonstrated that if they identify with a candidate, regardless of their partisanship they will support them. Continue Reading

MSNBC’s UP: The Digital Ground Game in Politics

By DrVMDS on February 1, 2016

What’s the Matter with Iowa? Mucho!

By DrVMDS on January 28, 2016

This piece first appeared on NBCnews.com

First things first: I have nothing against Iowans. The couple of Iowans I have met have all been lovely. It’s the role of Iowa in national politics that infuriates me. By holding the first electoral contest, Iowa distorts our democratic system and squashes the voice of minority electorates.

The first thing that is the matter with Iowa is its lack of racial and ethnic representation that reflects the nation. Saying that Iowa is no microcosm of the United States is an overstatement.

Iowa is one of the whitest states in the nation at 92 percent compared to the national white non-Hispanic population of 77 percent. Overall the U.S. Latino population accounts for 17 percent but in Iowa they make up less than a third, at 5 percent. African Americans and Asian Americans who nationally make up 13 percent and 5 percent of the population are only 3 percent and 2 percent of the state’s residents.

Add to these demographic distortions the overrepresentation of rural areas. Slightly over eighty percent of the U.S. population resides in urban areas; in Iowa, over one-third of the population is rural. This matters because the concrete policy concerns of urban and rural populations are different.

If there were some profound theoretical rationale for why Iowa should go first then maybe I could be persuaded to overlook the state’s complete lack of demographic representation. But there is no reason other than historical accident. Continue Reading

The Texas Standard: 9 Days & Counting to Iowa

By DrVMDS on January 22, 2016

Democratic Debate Tackles Big Latino Issue: Health Care

By DrVMDS on January 19, 2016

This piece originally appeared on NBCnews.com

Immigration was all but absent in the last Democratic Presidential debate. Yet this debate, where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went mano a mano on healthcare, was by far the most relevant to Latinos.

Latinos have seen the biggest gains in coverage following the Affordable Care Act, but they remain the racial and ethnic group with the highest rate of uninsured- one third of nonelderly Latinos have neither private insurance nor Medicaid. Not surprisingly healthcare ranks as one of the most important issues for Latinos – consistently above immigration. In the 2014 Midterm election 86 percent of Latino registered voters said that healthcare was either very or extremely important to them personally while 73 percent of Latinos indicated that immigration was very or extremely important to them.

Two hours before the NBC – YouTube debate the Sanders Presidential campaign released its healthcare plan. Under a Sander’s administration the United States would have Medicare-for-All system. This single payer system would rely on increased taxes especially for the wealthiest Americans. Continue Reading

Which GOP Gave The State of The Union Response?

By DrVMDS on January 13, 2016

This piece originally appeared on NBCnews.com

Which Republican party gave the State of the Union response?

Four of the last Republican responses to the State of the Union address have been given by minorities. Nimrata Randhawa Haley, otherwise known as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, gave the most recent one Tuesday night. She is the first female to serve as South Carolina’s governor, the second Indian-American state governor, and in her own words, “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants.”

The young and politically nimble governor has become a Republican superstar, heavily rumored to be on vice presidential shortlists for Republican presidential contenders. And there is no mistaking Haley with a Democrat – she’s fiscally and socially conservative. Just ask Sarah Palin who endorsed her early on. Haley also has no problem bashing Democrats and President Barack Obama, but at the same time she believes her party needs “to recognize contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership.”

But amid her conservative-ness, Haley engages in moderate rhetoric. Perhaps no where was this more apparent than in her discussion of immigration last night. Continue Reading

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