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The Changing Face of the American Electorate and the Possible Effects on USA Immigration Policy

The Changing Face of the American Electorate and the Possible Effects on USA Immigration Policy

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The 2009 General Election was a benchmark election for various reasons including American voters electing their first Black African American president. Another reason that this election will prove to be a special, “landmark” election, if you will, is because it is the first national election where Latino voters directly contributed to the election of the president. There are still other reasons for the significance of this election including the wide use of new technologies in fund raising and “get out the vote” (GOTV) efforts and the substantial role played by the 18-24 year old voter. The focus of this paper, however, is the role played by the Latino electorate in the election of Barack Obama to the presidency and the potential significance of this influence on the immigration policy of the new administration. Most importantly, however, is the role immigration policy has played as a coalescing force among all Latino national origin groups.
The 2009 General Election was a benchmark election for various reasons including American voters electing their first Black African American president. Another reason that this election will prove to be a special, “landmark” election, if you will, is because it is the first national election where Latino voters directly contributed to the election of the president. There are still other reasons for the significance of this election including the wide use of new technologies in fund raising and “get out the vote” (GOTV) efforts and the substantial role played by the 18-24 year old voter. The focus of this paper, however, is the role played by the Latino electorate in the election of Barack Obama to the presidency and the potential significance of this influence on the immigration policy of the new administration. Most importantly, however, is the role immigration policy has played as a coalescing force among all Latino national origin groups.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: St. Mary's University on Sep 07, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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“The
 
Changing
 
Face
 
of 
 
the
 
 American
 
E rate
 
and
 
the
 
Possible
 
Effects
 
on
 
USA
 
Im
 
lectomigration
 
Policy
ByDe dHenry Flores, PhDan l anProf nceof the Graduate Schooes ieSt. Mary ysor of Political Sc’s Universit San Antonio, TX
Introduction
 
The 2009 General Election was a benchmark election for various reasonsincluding American voters electing their first Black African American president.Another reason that this election will prove to be a special, “landmark” election, if you will, is because it is the first national election where Latino voters directlycontributed to the election of the president. There are still other reasons for thesignificance of this election including the wide use of new technologies in fundraising and “get out the vote” (GOTV) efforts and the substantial role played by the18‐24 year old voter. The focus of this paper, however, is the role played by theLatino electorate in the election of Barack Obama to the presidency and thepotential significance of this influence on the immigration policy of the newadministration. Most importantly, however, is the role immigration policy hasplayed as a coalescing force among all Latino national origin groups.
T tino
 
Electorate
 
in
 
Past 
 
Elections
 
To better understand why the Latino electorate’s role was so important tothe election of President Obama in the 2008 General Election it is important to takea brief look first at the participatory history of Latinos nationally. Data available forLatino voters are sparse and have been gathered by a broad array of institutions andmedia outlets whose methodologies are so diverse that interpretation is difficult at 
he
 
La
 
1
 
best 
1
. There have been only three systematic academic attempts to understand theLatino electorate and all have had various methodological difficulties given howvarious behavioral variables have undergone operationalization changes over thelast forty years
2
, funding for such projects has been difficult to obtain, andorganizing scholars with the appropriate skills to perform the necessary researchare among many reasons why such few attempts have occurred. The latter reasonwas caused by the lack of young faculty who were properly trained to conduct suchresearch coupled with the stresses of obtaining tenure. These twin stressors left avoid of faculty interested and capable of conducting this important research. Thissituation has been remedied so there should be more systematic attempts in thefuture. Regardless, the data produced about the Latino voter to date is the “best”available and so these will be used throughout this paper. Lack of funding forconducting sophisticated elections research was due generally to the fact that thestudy of Latino politics has been marginalized by traditional funding agencies andacademic disciplines. This marginalization mitigated against consideration of theupport.study of Latino voting behavior as a serious endeavor deserving of financial sThe first attempt to understand the impact Latino voters have had onAmerican national elections was made by Grebler, Moore and Guzman in a study
1
 
Early
 
studies
 
in
 
the
 
1970s
 
depended
 
principally
 
on
 
descriptive
 
statistics
 
while
 
later
 
studies
 
incorporated
 
more
 
sophisticated
 
techniques
 
such
 
as
 
ordinary
 
least
 
squares.
 
2
 
For
 
instance
 
the
 
operationalization
 
of 
 
Latino
 
identity
 
terminology
 
over
 
the
 
years
 
has
 
included
 
Mexican,
 
Mexican
 
American,
 
Spanish
 
Surnamed
 
individuals,
 
Hispanic,
 
and
 
Latino.
 
Also,
 
how
 
the
 
data
 
was
 
gathered
 
for
 
Latinos
 
varied
 
greatly
 
from
 
census
 
to
 
census.
 
2
 
that was initiated in 1963 and culminated in 1968 providing the data for theirseminal study entitled The Mexican American People: The Nation’s Second Largest Minority (1970)
.
 
As the title of this study indicates it focused solely on the MexicanAmerican population of the United States and only a brief allusion to other Latinogroups was made in the final report. Additionally,
 
the authors failed to discuss thedirect effects of Mexican Americans on national politics speaking instead to their“effectiveness” at the state and local levels. The principle reasons the authors gavefor a lack of political effectiveness on the part of Mexican Americans were theirrecent urbanization and the great number of barriers that had been erected by thepolitical system against their participation such as poll taxes, gerrymandering, andso forth (pp. 526‐572).The next major attempt to discern the effects of the Latino vote on Americanelections was set forth by de la Garza and DeSipio in their 1992 study entitled FromRhetoric to Reality: Latino Politics in the 1988 Elections
.
 
The authors spoke to theinclusion of Latino politicos within the Dukakis campaign including the intention toappoint Willie Velasquez, the founder and president of the Southwest VoterRegistration Project, to the campaign organization. Unfortunately, Mr. Velasquezpassed away before his presence could be felt on the campaign organization and noother Latino leader replaced him. Regardless, the Dukakis campaign infused a great deal of money and effort into organizing the Latino electorate in hopes of increasing
3
turnout.Unlike their predecessors De la Garza and DeSipio generated data in theirstudy that discussed the political behavior of all national origin Latino groups’

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