As we head into the 2012 elections, it is critically important to be clear about the following:
1. This electoral season will be largely determined by a small circle of super wealthy individuals who are likely to spend over $2 billion to influence the outcome of key races, particularly at the federal level, including the presidential race. President’s Obama reelection campaign alone has set a goal of raising $1 billion.
2. As a consequence of how elected officials get to be elected, irrespective to what political party they come from, the vast majority of them are going to be inclined to serve, first and foremost, the interest of the very rich, on top of everyone else. To dispute this trend, it will be crucial to get organized in a way in which holding elected officials accountable is at least equally important, as getting them elected.
3. In spite of the previous comment, it is important to keep in mind that the upcoming election is not just about choosing who the president will be for the next four years, or for that matter, who will be serving in the next U.S. House of Representatives and the next U.S. Senate. There will be many key local elections and ballot initiatives in which we should make our electoral weight be felt.
4. The socio-economic standards of the majority of the population have continued to systematically deteriorate over the past few years. In terms of employment, there continues to be nearly 4 million people in the country, who had a full time job in the summer of 2007, who do not have a job now. In addition, there have been somewhere between 4.9 to 7.3 million new workers who have joined the labor market over the past 4 years, who do not have jobs either. And finally, there are approximately 10 million people who in the summer of 2007 had full time jobs, who have had to make ends meet with only part-time jobs. In the area of housing, millions of people have faced the consequences of foreclosures. In the case of Latino communities, the economic crisis has hit Latinos in a disproportional manner.
5. The recent jobs data, which suggest that the economy may be in a job generation trend from here and on, comes with the caveat that many of the jobs being generated now are not like to jobs the previous jobs when it comes to wages and benefits. One decisive proof of this is the fact we are back to the same levels of productivity we had in December of 2007, even though the number of people fully employed now is significantly lower than it was then.
6. The fact most Americans continue to experience a hard time, and given the likely choices we will have in as far as the Presidential elections go, it is predictable that the November 2012 election is likely to be poorly attended. As a point of reference, 63.6% of all eligible voters participated in the 2008 elections.
7. Latino voters, like the rest of the voters in the U.S., are likely to be affected by the same trends in as far as likelihood of participation. One may even argue that given the fact that Latinos have taken a disproportional toll when it comes to negative social and economic impact over the past few years, we may be even less likely to be looking enthusiastically at the 2012 elections.
Some basic data, about the Latino vote, to keep in mind:
1. The Latino population, according to the 2010 Census, represents about 16.4% of the population. In outright numbers, Latinos are about 50,730,000 people residing in the U.S.
2. The eligible voter population in the U.S. (citizens of 18 years or older) totals 214,972,000. Of that total, 21,509,000 are Latinos or Hispanics. That number represents about 10% of the total eligible voter population.
3. The voter turnout in the last two elections was as follows:
4. The numeric participation (in millions), by ethnicity, in the last two elections was as follows:
5. The top ten states, in terms of percentage of Hispanic voters who voted for Obama in 2008, were the following:
Dear HWC followers, this article was shared with us and prepared by Oscar Chacón, the Executive Director of the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC for its English acronyms) on Feb. 14, 2012. We hope is of your interest.