Call it the under-reported story of 2011: the once-every-ten year redistricting battle, an incredible opportunity for shifting political power. The 2010 Census, the basis of redistricting, confirms the growth and evolution of the US Latino population. But how will redistricting reflect that change?
That is the question posed in a recent New York Timespiece by Monica Davey, which features a familiar face, Andres Ramirez. The article opens by focusing on Nevada, where a booming Latino population has earned the state an extra seat in Congress:
“There is consensus about one thing: that one of these districts is going to give the best opportunity yet for Latinos to elect a candidate of their choice, and that puts us in a very pivotal position,” said Andres Ramirez, a political consultant and leader of the Nevada Latino Redistricting Coalition. The group has drawn its own map — a very different one from that proposed by the state’s Republicans, but also different from the ones offered by the Democrats.
Latinos have become the political football this year,” Mr. Ramirez said.
There are, of course, complicated question around what successful redistricting looks like for this community. Is it about carving out districts where Latino candidates can win big? Or is it about carving out several districts where they can win at all? And in a state like Nevada that has very recently witnessed the rise and fall of anti-Latino candidates, is it about spreading the electorate around enough to hold each potential representative accountable to the larger community?
Alicia's appearances yesterday on Fox and Friends and MSNBC marked the 13th day in a row an NDNer had appeared on a national television news show. During that time we have discussed just about every major topic out there - from health care to the economy to the census and immigration. Many of this appearances have been by our rising star, Alicia Menendez, but we have also seen Andres Ramirez, Rob Shapiro and I on a variety of different programs. Andres even found time to appear in Spanish on La Casa Blanca this past Sunday.
I am proud that at this time of great national debate about our future the NDN team has stepped up to this degree. If you see us on the tube let us know how we are doing, and what we might be able to do better. And congrats again to the entire NDN team for this remarkable accomplishment.
The always interesting Julia Preston has an insightful piece in the NYTimes today about efforts to ensure Latino participation in the upcoming census. It includes a reference to recent NDN work spearheaded by Andres Ramirez:
Nearly 12 million Latinos voted in November 2008, an increase of two million votes over 2004, according to an analysis by Andres Ramirez, a researcher at NDN, a Democratic advocacy organization. Now, in the first census since Hispanics passed blacks to become the second-largest population group in the United States, Hispanics want to extend that voting power with a census count that would support more elected representatives for their communities.
An analysis by NDN and America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, projected that a full count of Hispanics would lead to a significant redrawing of the Congressional map, with six states picking up one Congressional seat (Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah), while Arizona would add two and Texas as many as four.
For the US Latino community the next three years will be of great consequence. We will see the census, the passage of immigration reform and the 2011/2012 reapportionment at the federal and state levels. If each happen as they should, as Andres' reports above show, there will be a significant shift of political power in the US to states and parts of states with fast-growing Latinos populations, the beginning of a more proper alignment of the actual number of Hispanics in the US with their political representation at all levels of government. For Hispanic leaders making sure that all three of these game-changing events happen, and happen as they should, is both a great opportunity and great challenge in the years ahead.
For many years NDN and our affiliate the New Policy Institute has worked to make sure that the extraordinary demographic transition underweigh in the US today both better understood and for it to play out with the least amount of social strife possible. Which was what drove us this year to not only aggressively champion comprehensive immigration reform and the nomination of Sonio Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, advocate for closer Hemispheric ties and relations with our Latin neighbors, produce the reports cited above, but to also lead the successful campaigns to get CNN to drop Lou Dobbs and to defeat the pernicious Vitter-Bennett amendment in the US Senate which would have done so much to disrupt the census next year.
In looking back at our work these last few years I think this work - helping ease and enable the extraordinary demographic transition underway in the US - has been our most important and lasting contribution to the national political debate. I am grateful for all the support the NDN community has given us - the whole NDN team - to lead on these basket of issues which have often been hard and sometimes not well understood. But led we have, with moral clarity and bull-headed conviction, and the I would like to believe that the nation is just a little better for it.
But the battles ahead may be our most important yet. Get ready my friends.
Update - Here is the redistricting report cited above.
On Tue, lunchtime, NDN is co-hosting an event with America's Voice,"How Latinos Are Shaping Census 2010 and Reapportionment. At the event we will be releasing a major new report with a lots of information about US Hispanic population growth and how it is effecting American politics.
To learn more, get the coordinates for watching live, or to RSVP visit here.
With debate over the recent vote in Congress on the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) largely turning into a debate on immigration, we present much of NDN's key work on comprehensive immigration reform, the changing demographic realities of 21st century America and Hispanic electoral trends.
As noted by Dan, NDN's narrative has been shaping analysis of the election, not only in the U.S., but in Mexico and elsewhere. The newspaper of largest circulation in Mexico (along with Reforma), El Universal, has followed NDN's analysis of the Hispanic vote in this election. In June, Alejandro Meneses published a piece on NDN's findings, contained in Hispanics Rising, and on Andres's analysis of the role of immigration in this election. In September, Jaime Hernandez wrote about the candidates' courtship of Hispanics and noted Simon's point that "John McCain gave in to the right wing of his party and abandoned support of his own [immigration] legislation." Jaime also cited our analysis and projections in late October. Finally, WilbertTorreenviadoof El Universal, and Mauricio Ferrer of La Jornada(another major national newspaper) have both published NDN's preliminary analysis of the Hispanic Vote and reported our narrative of Obama's new 21st century coalition and the new generation of politics that has been born with this campaign.
Actually, McCain's message on immigration is not mixed at all- since 2006 he's been consistently against immigration reform. The first and second ads focus on misrepresenting Obama's position on immigration, but at no time do they state McCain's position - much less go as far as saying that McCain supports immigration reform. Instead, since the GOP now recognizes that Hispanics respond negatively to these anti-Hispanic attacks, they created the same kind of degrading ad except this time they (inaccurately)attribute the comments about Mexico and immigrants to Barack Obama.
So will McCain's attempt at making Obama seem anti-Hispanic work? Andres is right - it's not working. NDN and analysts across the board believe the large numbers of Hispanic voters in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Floridacould be decisive in those swing states. Our latest polling in these states showed that Barack Obama is ahead of John McCain by at least 30 points among Hispanics in the Southwest, and specifically on the issue of immigration, Hispanics believe Barack Obama would do a better job than John McCain. Even in Florida, where the candidates were even among Hispanics (42%-42%), when asked about immigration, 42% of voters trusted Barack Obama to better handle the issue over 37% preferring John McCain. The largest difference was in Nevada, where 60% of Hispanics trusted Barack Obama more on the issue of immigration, while only 18% preferred John McCain.
And the latest ad makes no sense when put in context - on the one hand, the McCain campaign launches this ad to attempt to portray Obama as anti-immigrant, while on the other hand, they create another ad in Englishand Spanish that attacks Obama for allegedly voting against allowing people to own guns in order to defend themselves from these "criminal aliens" who are "crossing illegally into our country." So which is it?
For years, NDN has been a leader on Hispanic issues, including comprehensive immigration reform and analysis of Latino demographic and voting trends. In the last few months, NDN has set out to make the argument that Hispanic and immigrant voters have become a critical voting bloc in the United States and will play a pivotal role this fall and in all future elections. Our arguments went public in a big way in late May as we released Hispanics Rising II, an in-depth, updated look at Hispanic demographic and voting trends and the critical role that the Hispanic community is playing in U.S. politics. Below are some of the articles relevant to our argument as well as Andres's presentation at NCLR's Conference in San Diego last week: