A tax on soda would carry the greatest health benefits for black and Latino Californians, who face the highest risks of diabetes and heart disease, according to recent research findings.
The study found that if a penny-per-ounce tax was applied to soda, cuts in consumption would result in an 8 percent decline in diabetes cases among blacks and Latinos. The statewide reduction in new diabetes cases is projected at 3 to 5.6 percent, according to researchers from UC San Francisco, Columbia University and Oregon State University, who released their findings at last week's American Public Health Association annual meeting in San Francisco.
The study was unveiled as a sugar-sweetened beverage tax faces votes in El Monte, in Los Angeles County, and Richmond, in the Bay Area. A statewide excise tax was proposed but died in the California Legislature in 2010.
Harold Goldstein, executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, said he has visited Richmond to urge support for the measure. He said he heard residents speak of loved ones who’ve been affected by diabetes complications – such as limb amputations and blindness – during a recent town hall meeting at a Richmond church.
Goldstein said residents of both cities, though, face the pressure of nearly $3 million in spending by the beverage industry, which opposes the measures.
The residents "are using the power of democracy to say we want to change this,” Goldstein said. “But the beverage industry is using the enormous power of its pocketbook to try to crush it.”
Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association, said the Richmond and El Monte taxes, if passed, would take a heavy toll on small-business owners who would see a new license fee that they could pass on to customers' grocery bills.
And, she said, “there’s no real life evidence that would suggest that taxing soft drinks would do anything to improve health.”
The populations of Richmond and El Monte are predominantly comprised of the groups that the recent study shows would benefit most from a soda tax. In Richmond, 63.5 percent of residents are black or Latino, according to city figures. About 70 percent of El Monte residents are Latino, according to U.S. Census data.
Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, the study’s lead author, said researchers took a conservative stance, assuming that a penny-per-ounce tax would cut soda consumption by 10 to 20 percent.
Even so, she said the decline in consumption would eliminate 5 in 10,000 new diabetes cases for African Americans and 4 in 10,000 for Mexican-Americans. The decline for those groups is higher than the projected statewide reduction, which is 1 in 10,000, she said.
She said the study, which has been submitted for publication, was among the first to show that some groups that tend to drink more soda and face higher diabetes risks also stand to benefit most from a soda tax.
“It’s pretty clear that what’s necessary is some mechanism to increase price (enough) to curb consumption,” said Bibbins-Domingo, who is a physician and epidemiologist.
The UCSF team’s latest research builds on a study published in the journal Health Affairs in January. That study predicted that nationwide, a soda tax could reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 15 percent. And even if Americans replace 40 percent of the cut calories with juice or milk, it would lead to a weight loss of nearly 1 pound per year.
Researchers conclude that within 10 years, the lost weight would translate to 876,000 fewer obese Americans in the 25-to-64 age range. Over a decade, the change is projected to prevent 30,000 heart attacks, 8,000 strokes and 26,000 premature deaths, the study found. The changes would lead to $17 billion in health cost savings, the study says.
Hanretty, the beverage association spokeswoman, disputed the findings: “I am very confident that a1-pound weight loss per year will have no effect on the health of Americans.”
At the conclusion of last week's meeting where the recent findings were presented, a council of 200 public health workers, including doctors and epidemiologists, passed a resolution supporting local, state and federal soda taxes, noting the toll of the nation's obesity epidemic.
For decades, the story behind politics in California was this: older white Californians determined the elections because they voted and Latino and Asian voters did not, at least not to the same degree as white voters. But the electorate is changing and this election may reveal the rising voice of Latino and Asian voters and a new direction for the state.
A Field poll commissioned by New America Media released Friday spotlighted this: In 2000, white voters made up 72 percent of the electorate. In 2012, on 63 percent. In 2000, Latino voters represented 16 percent of the electorate. In 2012, 23 percent. Asian voters made a small gain from 6 percent to 8 percent. African American voters were unchanged at 6 percent of the electorate.
Latino voters tend to register as Democrats, as do Asian voters. But most Asian voters register as decline-to-state voters, that is, with no preference for either party. There were marked differences among Asian voters. Vietnamese American voters, if they chose a party, tended to register as Republicans.
On two of the significant ballot measures, Prop. 30 and Prop. 34, there was a difference in support between white voters and Latino and Asian voters.
Gov. Brown’s tax and budget initiative, Prop. 30, polls at 48 percent “yes” statewide, but is more strongly supported by Latino, African American and Asian American voters than white voters.
Prop. 34, which would end the death penalty, polls statewide at about 45 percent “yes.” It has relatively strong support among Latino and African American voters, but the Asia American vote is split — some 48 percent of Vietnamese-Americans want to end the death penalty, but only 24 percent pf Chinese-American and Korean-America voters do. White voters polled at 41 percent supporting passage.
When Hispanic voters in West Michigan go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6, immigration reform won't be the only key issue they consider as they complete their ballots.
Martha Gonzalez-Cortez, chief executive officer at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, said when Latinos cast their votes, she believes they will take into account their finances, and where they stand on health and education issues.
“If they were economically hit and they are doing worse than four years ago, this will have an impact (on how they vote). But Obama’s Deferred Action Plan for Childhood Arrivals, will carry a lot of weight because Romney’s plan is to shut the process down,” she said.
However, she insisted that many Hispanic voters tend to be socially conservative and will likely cast their votes in that direction.
“Grand Rapids has the biggest population of Cubans and Guatemalans in the state, and they tend to be very conservative. It is no secret that they are a faith-based community so many of them would say ‘no’ to abortion and contraception,” said Gonzalez-Cortez.
She said this cultural awareness and the fact that during President Obama’s administration 1.5 million illegal immigrants were deported -- more than the deportations during Bush’s two terms -- might make some Hispanic voters hesitant to back him.
“It was not a happy moment to see record deportations and record detentions. It hits us. But Romney is offering a little bit of nothing,” she said.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, in 2010 Michigan had 67,795 Hispanic voters, which represented about 2 percent of the state’s constituency.
Lupe Ramos-Montigny, member of the executive committee in the Kent County Democratic Party, agreed with Gonzalez-Cortez and said many Hispanic voters are interested in a better education for their kids, especially gaining entry to college.
“That is probably why we value so much the Deferred Action Plan for Childhood Arrivals, because Obama is giving kids the hope of going to college,” she said.
Ramos-Montigny said it’s important that the Hispanic community gets involved in the elections and their communities.
November 2, 2012 by Mark Hugo Lopez and Seth Motel
Hispanics have grown more satisfied with the nation’s direction and more confident in their finances since 2011, according to a new survey from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
Today, half of Latinos (51%) express satisfaction with the direction of the country, a 13 percentage point increase over 2011, when 38% said the same. One-third (33%) now report that their finances are in “excellent” or “good” shape, up from one-quarter (24%) who said the same in 2011. And looking forward, Latinos have grown more optimistic about their family’s finances in the next 12 months, with three-in-four (73%) expecting improvement, up from 67% who said the same in 2011.
These changing assessments about finances and the country’s direction occur as some economic indicators recently have improved for Hispanics. In the third quarter of 2012, the Hispanic unemployment rate was 9.9%, down from 11.2% in the third quarter of 2011. The Hispanic unemployment rate is also now below its level at the end of the Great Recession in the third quarter of 2009, when it stood at 12.7%.1 The poverty rate among Hispanics has also declined, falling to 25.3% in 2011 from 26.5% in 2010 (DeNavas-Walt, Proctor and Smith, 2012).
However, other economic indicators illustrate the difficult times that Latinos have faced since the onset of the Great Recession. Driven mainly by the collapse in the housing market, median household wealth among Latinos declined by 58% between 2005 and 2010 (the latest year for which such figures are available), more than that of either whites (18%) or blacks (54%).2 In 2007, for the first time, the number of Latino children in poverty surpassed the number of white children or black children living in poverty (Lopez and Velasco, 2011). And by their own assessment, Latinos say they were hit harder by the recession than any other group (Taylor, Lopez, Velasco and Motel, 2012).
Nonetheless, the Pew Hispanic survey finds that, compared with the public as a whole, Hispanics are more satisfied with the country’s direction. Just 31% of the general public (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 2012) says they are satisfied with how things are going in the country today, compared with 51% among Hispanics.
When it comes to personal finances, Hispanics’ self-assessments, while improving, are not as positive as those of the general public. One-third (33%) of Hispanics say their current situation is “excellent” or “good” while 43% of the general public says the same. On the other hand, Hispanics are somewhat more optimistic than the general public about the future of their family finances. Some 73% of Hispanics say they think their finances will improve in the coming 12 months, while 67% of the general public says the same.
During this year’s presidential campaign, the issue of jobs and the economy has been a top concern for Hispanics, just as it is for the general public. According to the Pew Hispanic survey, 47% of all Hispanics rate the issue as “extremely important” to them personally (Lopez and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012). Among Hispanic registered voters, 54% rate jobs and the economy as extremely important.
This report is based on a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,765 Latino adults with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. The survey was fielded from September 7 to October 4, 2012, largely before the first presidential debate, which occurred on October 3, 2012. For a full description of the survey methodology, see Appendix B. The report is also based on a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data. In addition, the report uses poverty and household income data published by the federal government.
The protesters in the chicken suits arrived at the Republican picnic within minutes of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and one of his most famous supporters, action star Steven Seagal.
The self-proclaimed “America’s toughest sheriff,” surrounded by enthusiastic Republicans, had just been telling reporters the secret to his 20-year reign as the top cop in Arizona’s most populous county amid federal civil-rights lawsuits and millions of dollars in legal settlements.
“You know what my secret is? They are,” he said, motioning to the cheering crowd that formed around him at the state Republicans’ picnic and candidate rally Oct. 27 at Mesa Community College. “They can go after me from the president on down with all their garbage, but it is them -- them -- that get me elected.”
As Arpaio, 80, seeks an unprecedented sixth term in office, he is showcasing his softer side in campaign commercials featuring his work with abused animals and his wife of 55 years while counting on the loyalty of long-time supporters and donations from fans nationwide to ward off what may prove to be the toughest challenge of his political career.
Dogged by protesters at almost every public event -- such as the chicken-suited Citizens for a Better Arizona, who want him to participate in debates -- Arpaio is on the defensive as never before. He faces a 45-year-old retired Phoenix police sergeant who says he wants to restore professionalism to the office known under Arpaio for jail-house tents, pink underwear and forays into reality TV. Latino Support
Democrat Paul Penzone’s candidacy has been buoyed by support in the Latino community galvanized by opposition to Arpaio, who has become a symbol of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration zeal. The sheriff’s so-called “crime suppression” sweeps in mostly Hispanic neighborhoods have made him a hero to those nationwide seeking a crack-down on undocumented residents while angering the county’s growing Latino population and drawing a U.S. Justice Department civil rights lawsuit, which is continuing.
During a campaign year when there has been much speculation about the impact of the Latino vote, the Maricopa County sheriff’s race is the battle on the front line: How well activists mobilize Latino voters to come out against Arpaio may have ripple effects for Democrats up the ticket in the state, including U.S. Senate candidate Richard Carmona and President Barack Obama. ‘Civic Engagement’
Arizona is seeing “an awakening of the Latino community in civic engagement,” said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona in Action, which has registered with partner groups more than 34,000 new Latino voters this year. Working with the “Adios Arpaio” campaign, they are now trying to turn those registrations into votes for Penzone.
Arpaio “sends fear and terror into the community,” Falcon said in her central Phoenix campaign office last weekend. She wore an “Adios Arpaio” T-shirt with the silhouette depiction of a portly sheriff galloping away on his horse. Latino activists helped defeat the author of Arizona’s 2010 immigration law, former Senate President Russell Pearce who was ousted in a recall election last year, and now they are focused on Arpaio, she said.
“We want a new sheriff and we think that Paul Penzone can fill the role,” she said. Polls Limited
The limited polling in the race shows Penzone continuing to trail Arpaio and struggling with name recognition. Democratic polls peg the gap between the candidates at about 5 percentage points while Republican polls show it three times as large. A poll conducted in mid-October for Project New America, a Denver- based research group with Democratic ties, found 40 percent of those surveyed didn’t know who Penzone was.
That’s what Promise Arizona in Action campaign workers were trying to change Oct. 27 in South Phoenix’s Coffelt Housing project. Devin Del Palacio, 25, and Joel Juarez, 19, went door- to-door to collect early ballots, hand out flyers and spread the word about Penzone -- a message complicated by the presence in the race of independent candidate Mike Stauffer, who could siphon anti-Arpaio votes.
“We’re really making a huge push,” Del Palacio told Rosie Carrillo, 47, when she came out on the porch of her small white public housing unit. “We’ve got to tell people about Paul Penzone -- that’s the guy we want.”
Carrillo said she doesn’t know who Penzone is. Still, she doesn’t like Arpaio and knows someone who was mistreated in his jails, she said. She filled out her ballot on the spot and gave it to them. ‘Later, Arpaio’
“See you later, Arpaio,” she said.
Penzone said he wants to restore law-enforcement fundamentals to a sheriff’s office he believes has strayed from its mission -- evidenced by Arpaio’s inquiry into Obama’s birth certificate earlier this year and the resources diverted to immigration busts as serious crimes weren’t investigated, he said.
“He really enjoys the notoriety of the position instead of the responsibility,” Penzone said. “He talks about how tough he is -- it’s a prerequisite in law enforcement to be tough. It is a tough job. But effective and efficient is the goal.”
While Penzone wouldn’t close Tent City -- the outdoor jail Arpaio opened in 1993 -- he said he would reduce liabilities from poor inmate care. Penzone said he would do a better job patrolling the areas the office is responsible for and fixing what he sees as deficiencies in staffing.
“It’s not sexy, it doesn’t get a whole lot of media attention, it is just fundamentally sound law enforcement,” Penzone said. Latino Voters
He knows a victory for him probably rests with Latinos.
“If there is a strong showing of Latino voters, I think we win,” he said.
At the Republican picnic, Chuck and Brenda Stockard of Phoenix said they stand behind Sheriff Joe, as Arpaio is widely known.
“He’s obviously doing a good job because he has a lot of people upset with him,” said Chuck Stockard, 59, who wears a National Rifle Association T-shirt. Brenda Stockard, 54, who is glad Arpaio investigated Obama’s citizenship, said when she talks to people in other states, “they wish they had a sheriff like him.”
Before he addressed the crowd, Arpaio, still bristling at protesters who interrupted his media interviews earlier, denied that the race with Penzone is tight and asked why he should debate him: “Why would I give him publicity? People know who I am.”
Still, he acknowledges that some voters, especially in the Latino community, may be enthusiastically working for his defeat this year. ‘More irritation’
“I do know that I have a little more irritation than all my other elections because of the illegal immigration,” he said. “I do know that a lot of them don’t like what I am doing.”
This campaign is “more nasty” than others, he said. “I seem to be the target.”
That’s because the media won’t let him get his story out: he’s really a nice guy, he said. He called over Ava Arpaio, 81, to meet a reporter. She wore a gold pendant around her neck, the shape of a sheriff’s badge, adorned with sapphires, rubies and diamonds.
“Every time I get elected, I buy her another diamond,” Arpaio explained.
After two decades in office, though, the pendant appears complete. Where will they put the next diamond? The sheriff and his wife looked at each other. He’s confident he can pull it off, he said.
Dr. Gaston Espinosa, nationally recognized scholar on Hispanic evangelicals, directed a scientific survey on Latino Religions and the 2012 elections. Espinosa, in cooperation with the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference also issued and published a survey in 2008. The survey captures interesting findings particularly on how Hispanic Catholics and Hispanic Evangelicals are currently leaning as it pertains to the Presidential election. (To view the summary and survey please go to WWW.NHCLC.ORG).
Gaston Espinosa, Ph.D., the Arthur V. Stoughton Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Claremont McKenna College and Co-Editor, The Columbia University Press Series in Religion in Politics, said, "The Latino Religions and Politics Survey of 1,000 likely voters found that Romney gained a bounce after the first debate and that 43% of Latino undecided likely voters nationwide and 56% in Florida are Born-Again Christians and socially conservative and that if enough of these undecided voters swing over and vote for Romney they could help him eke out a victory in Florida, Colorado, and/or possibly the nation."
Latino Religions & Politics Survey Summary of Findings
The Latino Religions and Politics Survey differs from other 2012 surveys because…
It's recent — completed on October 10, 2012 It's the only survey focused exclusively on U.S. Latino religion and political behavior in the Fall of 2012, with questions on the intersection of religion and controversial social, moral, and political issues It's a very large survey of 1,000 Latinos (+/-3.0%); most polls are of 300-750 people It's focused exclusively on likely voters, which is a more accurate sampling method than surveying general or registered voters, since one can be registered but still not be likely to vote
The Latino Religions and Politics Survey captures a number of important findings like…
Catholics make up 67% of all Latino Christian likely voters, Protestants 32% and Other 1% Born-Again Christians have grown to 39% of all Latino likely Christian voters in 2012 Born-Again and Evangelical Christians make up 88% of all Latino Protestant likely voters Top 3 Election Issues? Fixing the Economy, Creating Jobs, and Immigration Most Latinos believe their standard of living has remained the same or improved under Obama Obama leads among Latino Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals, though with some defections Romney, for example, received a +5 point bounce with Latino likely voters after the first debate Romney received a +5 point bounce among Latinos nationwide after the first debate on Oct. 4th Obama saw a -6 point decrease in support among Latinos nationwide Obama saw a -6 point decrease in support among Latino Catholics However, Obama's Evangelical support remained stable at 50% and Romney's at 39% But Romney now leads nationwide with the 2 largest U.S. Latino Protestant traditions (40% of all Prot): Latino Born-Again Assemblies of God likely voters (45% Romney v. 42% Obama) Latino Born-Again Baptist likely voters (52% Romney v. 45% Obama) And Romney now leads in Florida with Latino Catholics & Born Again Assemblies of God likely voters Most Latinos believe Obama's social views are moving the nation in the wrong direction A plurality of Latino Catholics believe Obama's public support for abortion, gay marriage, and contraceptive coverage is moving the nation in the wrong direction By a ratio of 3:1 Latino Protestants and Evangelicals believe Obama's public support for abortion, gay marriage and contraceptive coverage is moving the nation in the wrong direction The survey found that a majority of Latino likely voters also oppose gay marriage (50% v. 30%), including Latino Catholics, Protestants by a ratio of 2:1, and Evangelical by a ratio of 4:1 Latinos say Health Care is a top issue, but they also say it's a violation of religious freedom to force self-insuring religious schools to pay for contraceptive coverage & abortion-inducing drugs Latinos ranked supporting Health Care as the 4th most important 2012 issue Latino Protestants & Evangelicals oppose Obama's Health Care Mandate by a ratio of 2:1 Who will help decide the 2012 Election? Undecided voters. Latino Born-Again Christians make up 43% of all undecided likely voters nationwide & 56% in Florida Given that such a high percentage of Latino undecided likely voters are Born-Again and socially conservative, will a majority of them vote for Obama? Yes, probably, but it's uncertain by what margin and if it will be enough to win key swing states like Florida and Colorado
Three months ago, the president of the United States came to a hole-in-the-wall cafeteria here called Lechonera El Barrio, posed for pictures, and left with a $6 plate of pulled pork, rice, and beans. It was a homecoming of sorts for prodigal son Barack Obama, who in 2008 swept the fast-growing Hispanic community in central Florida that is remaking politics in the nation’s largest swing state.
Unlike the Cuban-American Republican stronghold in Miami, the mostly Puerto Rican population in this area leans Democratic but swings to both parties, favoring Republicans such as former President George W. Bush and former Gov. Jeb Bush. Over tables heaped with garlic-heavy Puerto Rican dishes such as mofongo and carne frita, interviews at Lechonera and other hangouts turned up disenchantment with the president but also found widespread suspicion of GOP nominee Mitt Romney because of his hard line against illegal immigration.
Darren Soto, a Puerto Rican Democrat representing this bellwether community in the Florida House, said that polling for his own race shows the president way ahead of Romney but running a point or two behind his 2008 landslide. “[Voters] are not romantic about Obama like they were in 2008, and Romney has committed far more resources than John McCain did, but they definitely favor the president,” Soto said. “The problem for Obama is that he really has to crush it, while Romney only has to hang tough.”
Indeed, Obama’s reelection depends largely on whether he can maximize votes from friendly blocs of Hispanics, African-Americans, college-educated women, and young people—only this time as a graying incumbent weighed down by a dubious economic record instead of buoyed up as a hope-and-change-preaching senator making history.
Demographic trends are moving in Obama’s favor. Four million more Hispanics are eligible to vote in 2012 than were in 2008, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. In a recent interview with The Des Moines Register, the president called immigration reform a top priority and said, “A big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.”
Regardless of the outcome, the Hispanic vote will be one of the most important markers of the parties’ futures, pointing the way to newly competitive battlegrounds in traditionally Republican states across the country. Add conservative movement icon Grover Norquist, the antitax crusader, to the growing list of prominent Republicans who are sounding the alarm.
“The Republican Party has got to reintroduce itself to the Hispanic community and seriously address immigration, and it has got to happen for both economic reasons and the political health of the party,” Norquist said. “Too many voices in the Republican Party have come across as shrill and harsh. They thought they were discussing immigration, but what Hispanics were hearing was, ‘I wish you weren’t here.’ ” ROMNEY PIVOTS
The story of the Hispanic vote in 2012 is, in many ways, the story of this presidential campaign.
Seeking a wedge issue that would allow him to outflank his more conservative rivals in the Republican primary, Romney seized on illegal immigration. He hammered Texas Gov. Rick Perry for backing college-tuition breaks for the children of illegal immigrants, and he bashed Newt Gingrich for supporting “amnesty.” Romney vowed to veto a Democratic version of the Dream Act that would legalize the presence of children brought illegally to the U.S. and advocated “self-deportation” of undocumented workers. His tough rhetoric played well with white conservatives who dominate Republican primaries but sank his ratings with Hispanic voters.
For months, the Romney campaign insisted that the struggling economy would drag down Obama’s appeal among Hispanics and other swing voters. No matter that Obama and his allies were pounding Romney on Spanish media. No need for Romney to make targeted appeals to Hispanics, beyond pointing to the higher unemployment rate in their community. The highest-profile Hispanic elected official in the country and the grassroots favorite to be Romney’s pick for vice president, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, was passed over in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
It wasn’t until the race’s homestretch, when the GOP ticket was still struggling to overtake an economy-defying Obama, that Romney started softening his platform’s sharp edges—not just on immigration but on women’s issues, taxes, the role of the federal government, and national security. Romney started championing a “bipartisan” approach to immigration reform; after avoiding the question for months, he said he would not repeal the temporary visas granted by the Obama administration to children brought to this country illegally. He increasingly voiced support for an alternative Dream Act that would grant citizenship to young people who join the military.
Last week, as part of a more robust Spanish advertising campaign launched after the GOP national convention, Romney began airing an ad that promised “to achieve permanent solutions for undocumented youth.” Starring in Romney’s other Spanish ads are popular Hispanic figures such as Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno and Rubio, who is Cuban-American.
Whether Romney’s outreach is too little, too late will become clear on Nov. 6. The Hispanic vote could be determinative in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and other toss-up states, and it will shape the outcome in battlegrounds with much smaller but growing Spanish-speaking populations, including North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In Ohio, the state that could turn the entire election, Hispanic voters make up only 2 percent of the electorate. But both campaigns, as well as two pro-Obama groups, have aired Spanish-language ads there.
“President Obama’s first campaign was savvy to the growth of Hispanic voters in states that weren’t on the radar before, and the Romney campaign has also showed an understanding of that this cycle,” said Mario Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a center-right advocacy group.
FEELING LIKE OUTSIDERS
Not far from the bright lights and colors of Epcot, Disney World’s international theme park, is a more sprawling and less sanitized Latin American community. Even the white, non-Hispanic politicians have campaign billboards in Spanish here. Latin music is all over FM radio; basic foodstuffs from the island, such as plantains, yucca, and mango, are abundant in grocery stores.
Lunching one afternoon at Puerto Rico’s Café with her family, 40-year-old Jessica Smith recalled the thrill she felt helping to elect the first African-American president in 2008. Many Hispanics with ties abroad felt a kinship with Obama, the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya who grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. “I thought he was going to change everything,” Smith said. “Obviously, that was not the case.”
“The state of the economy, it’s not getting any better,” said Eddie Burgos, a 37-year-old financial adviser, sitting at a table nearby. “I’m more optimistic about what Romney can do to turn things around. I don’t want more of the same.”
Smith, a Christian who homeschools her two children, was particularly disappointed when Obama came out in favor of gay marriage (although a recent Pew Research Center poll found that Hispanic support for same-sex marriage has risen substantially). Yet Smith is reluctant to commit to Romney. Why? “He and his party act like they want nothing to do with Hispanics and immigration,” she said.
That sentiment came up again and again in interviews with Orlando-area voters. Even though immigration matters do not directly affect Puerto Ricans, they understand what it feels like to be seen as outsiders. “Even though we are citizens, we feel for other people who aren’t, and some of them are our friends and like family to us,” Smith said.
Immigration is a more pressing concern for the Dominicans, Venezuelans, Colombians, and Mexicans who make up the rest of central Florida’s Hispanic community. They, too, lean Democratic but swing between both parties. “Had I not gotten lucky along the way, I would be one of those people who need the Dream Act, and Romney wants to veto it?” said Diana Fis, a 27-year-old law-school student from Venezuela who was undocumented until she married her American husband. “There are a lot of kids that want to give back to this country, this land of opportunity, and I’m an example of that. I can’t support someone who goes against my people.”
Romney had the opportunity to clarify his position on the Dream Act in the second debate with Obama. “The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States, and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident,” he said. He also stepped up criticism of Obama for breaking his campaign promise to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws.
But with polls showing Obama’s lead among Hispanic voters nationwide at 45 to 52 points, it appears that Romney’s earlier, strident calls for border security left a mark. What’s more, the hostility that some Hispanics perceive bleeds into a perception that Romney doesn’t care about the poor or middle class. Democratic attacks on his plan to perpetuate tax breaks for the wealthy and on his career as a venture capitalist have sunk in.
Rachel Figueroa, 19, waits tables at a restaurant owned by her grandmother to help pay her tuition at Valencia College. “I don’t believe Romney is going to work to help the middle class. He’s for the top 1 percent,” she said. Her impression was formed when Romney advised some Ohio college students in April to borrow from their parents. “I’m sure Romney can afford to do that, but my parents can’t,” Figueroa said.
Over 850,000 Puerto Ricans live in Florida, more than in any other state other than New York, with the largest concentration in central Florida. But while polls show they favor Obama (a Florida International University survey pegged support for him at 61 percent), their votes are not guaranteed. In 2008, only 50 percent of eligible Hispanic voters cast ballots, compared with 65 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Cross off David Quintero, 28, who says he won’t vote in 2012. It took him four long months to find a job as a waiter when he moved to Orlando from Virginia earlier this year. To Quintero, both Obama and Romney are mouthing empty words.
“The challenge is really getting out the Puerto Rican vote, especially these first-generation voters who are just getting established and finding a good job and trying to send their kids to school,” said Lynnette Acosta, a Puerto Rican information-technology manager in Orlando who is one of 35 national cochairs of the Obama campaign. After back-to-back media interviews one recent afternoon, Acosta was slated to do a conference call with a group of Puerto Ricans who live on the island—and can’t vote in the presidential election—but want to make phone calls to help get out the vote in Orlando. Her house is stocked with bottled water for the volunteers who pick up voter lists and campaign literature before canvassing neighborhoods.
The Obama campaign maintains that its vaunted ground game from 2008 is even more extensive in 2012 and features 103 offices around the state (24 in largely Hispanic neighborhoods). Romney has half as many offices.
But what Romney lacks in square feet, campaign volunteers such as Julio Quinones are making up for in sweat equity. The 22-year-old Valencia College student drives a 1996 Ford Explorer with no air conditioning, voters lists tucked underneath his windshield visor. He’s been harassed by Obama supporters and nearly bitten by a police dog while out canvassing. He wore a wide-brimmed hat to shield him from the sun as he walked door-to-door one afternoon.
“Did you hear Romney say in one of the debates that 50 percent of college students can’t find jobs? That’s crazy,” said Quinones, who is studying horticulture. “I think I’ll feel more comfortable if Mitt Romney is in charge.”
Quinones comes from a solidly Republican, Cuban-American family that represents the longtime face of the Hispanic vote in Florida. But the explosive growth in the Puerto Rican population—from 482,000 in 2000 to 850,000 today—is diluting the Cuban-American community’s influence. Cuban-Americans make up 32 percent of the Hispanic vote in Florida, while Puerto Ricans compose 28 percent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Courting the Hispanic vote in Florida once meant a trip to Miami for a cortadito and a declaration of Cuba Libre! Now it also involves a more economically framed pitch here and in nearby Kissimmee, where Romney campaigned with Rubio last week.
“I’d been looking forward to being here with you today,” Romney said. “I wanted to be able to speak a little in Spanish, but Marco did that for me, and I appreciate that.”
November 2, 2012 By Glenn Hammer and Lea Marquez Peterson
The Hispanic business community has a lot at stake in this election. The unemployment rate is 13.4 percent among Hispanics in Arizona and about 39 percent of Hispanics in the state live in poverty. Business growth is stagnant. With so much on the line, Arizona’s continued economic advancement and the elimination of stubbornly high joblessness, requires a collective effort to support candidates that will make job creation and economic growth a priority. Together, we must impact change.
Our current economic impasse is a result of bad policy decisions, ranging from immigration to healthcare to tax policy, made in Washington, D.C., our state Capitol and city halls. When policy makers think they know best and impose burdensome regulations and high taxes on businesses, economic growth is stifled and businesses’ ability to innovate and create jobs is impeded.
Good policy matters to business. We need reform that eliminates tax and regulation practices that increase costs and reduce net revenue so businesses can invest in the future and create jobs. Implementing appropriate reform to immigration policies and engaging in solutions that promote the importance of foreign and Mexican-born residents to the Southern Arizona economy, is important to building a strong workforce and increasing employment.
We also need raise education standards so that we produce graduates prepared to compete in the 21st century global economy and that are qualified for the jobs businesses need to grow.
The Nov. 6 election presents an opportunity to promote a pro-economy and pro-jobs voice in the political dialogue to influence policy. To move our economy forward and open the door for prosperity for the Hispanic community, we must know the issues, know the candidates and vote accordingly. Look to VotaAZ.org to provide the organization and information we need to make informed choices. It is the first ever pro-prosperity project aimed at providing Hispanic business leaders a way to educate their employees.
VotaAZ serves as a central resource in Hispanic voter education on important issues including our wages, benefits, job security and personal prosperity. The information available online in both Spanish and English includes guidelines on registering to vote and objective and easy to understand documents about candidates and important business issues.
With Election Day nearly upon us, it’s crucial for Hispanic business leaders to play their roles in employee education efforts and build on the efforts of VotaAZ. Research has revealed that employees view business leaders as reliable and credible experts on economic growth and job creation. Business leaders and groups can share online tools available through VotaAZ with their organizations and host voter registration and education events to raise awareness among the workforce about issues impacting their jobs and industry.
It’s too late for this election but we must also be sure we are registered to vote. Hispanics make up 31.2 percent of Arizona’s population, yet estimates show that 405,300 of Hispanics who are eligible to vote have not registered. We make up a huge part of the voting bloc and our voice can make a difference.
When we are registered to vote and informed on the issues, we will participate in elections and support pro-growth and pro-prosperity candidates to better our lives. Together, we will eliminate roadblocks to business investment and growth. Together, we can ensure our elected officials help us strive toward a future of prosperity and economic security for our families.
Although Hispanics overall post lower-than-average social networking penetration, online US Hispanics are social mavens. For them, the sites occupy an outsized place in their digital lives, according to a new eMarketer report, “US Hispanics and Social Networking: A Digital Space They Make Their Own.” In an Anglocentric online universe that pays comparatively little heed to Hispanic interests, social networks provide a congenial space.
eMarketer estimates that 68.5% of Hispanic internet users will go to social sites from any device at least once a month this year. That’s several percentage points higher than the figure for all internet users.
As important as the sheer number of Hispanics on social networks is, the prominence of those networks in their overall digital usage may be even more telling. Polling by comScore in March 2012 for a Terra Networks report found online Hispanics averaging 4.0 hours per week on social networks, vs. 3.7 hours for online non-Hispanics.
Online Hispanics’ above-average time spent social networking is particularly striking when one adds a bit of context: The same study found them spending nearly three hours less per week than non-Hispanics using the internet across all screens (8.7 hours vs. 11.6). Putting all of these numbers together, it’s evident that social networking plays an outsized role in Hispanics’ overall digital lives.
While employing social networks for an array of purposes, Hispanics are not indiscriminate about what they’re willing to post there. A uSamp survey in February 2012 asked what types of information respondents were “willing to share in a social media setting.” Hispanics were markedly more guarded about sharing occupation, personal photos and other things that are common currency on social sites. Still, two-thirds said they were willing to share “race/ethnicity” on social sites, a factor that could make it easier for marketers to target them with Hispanic-specific content.