Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→
Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.
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. (more…)
This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.
Barack Obama is untouchable, at least in the Latino electorate. Two recent polls show his support among Latinos ranging from 70-80 percent. However, these polls took place before the President stated that his views on gay marriage had evolved to where he now supports gay marriage. And if the Republicans have it right, then the deep social conservatism of Latinos will be the undoing of the president.
Latinos are a religious bunch and overwhelmingly Catholic. Close to two-thirds of Latinos state that religion provides quite a bit, to a great deal of guidance in their day-to-day living. And for a majority of Latinos this guidance is attained through regular attendance at religious services – not just the occasional wedding, funeral, or baptism! It is this level of religiosity that has led Republicans to await a great Latino migration into the socially conservative promise land of the GOP. And today, this belief translates into a glimmer of hope for Romney that the mostly Catholic Latino electorate will unfriend the gay-friendly president and like Romney.
There is no doubt that Latinos are religiously devout. But, the real question is what does that have to do with politics? The answer is, very little. According to a recent impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll 63 percent of Latino voters strongly disagree with religious leaders telling members which candidate to vote for. The distaste for mixing politics and religion is actually higher among Latinos than the general electorate. In the Latino electorate the view that politics is about moral issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion is in the micro-minority, fourteen percent.