MSNBC’S Alex Witt – Immigration & the AZ Primary

By DrVMDS on March 19, 2016

Adiós, Rubio 2016

By DrVMDS on March 18, 2016

This piece originally appeared on NBCnews.com

Donald Trump has been thumping Marco Rubio—verbally and politically—for weeks. But the lethal blow came in Florida with Rubio coming in a distant second behind Trump. Just a few years earlier Florida had launched Marco Rubio as one of the brightest GOP stars. On Tuesday that star went dark. Florida turned its back on Rubio ending his 2016 presidential bid and perhaps his career in politics.

What was it? Was it that his boots were too high? That would be such a satisfying and simple answer if only it were that. Was it that his hair was not gray enough?

Again the answer is no. In any previous Republican primary that might have been the case given the old adage that “Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line.” But Donald Trump has upended the orthodoxy that Republican presidential aspirations need to wait their turn. Trump is one of the older candidates, but in terms of paying his political dues he’s as young as they come.

The demise of the Rubio presidential campaign was largely out of his control. Prior to Trump being taken seriously Rubio was seen as a top contender for the Republican nomination. Mega-donors were Rubio-curious and the Clinton camp was not looking forward to a matchup with the young Florida Senator.

Trump has surprised politicos, political watchers and voters alike. Yet the demise of Marco Rubio, not his campaign, was not inevitable. Continue Reading

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

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