MYTHS THAT COULD COST GOP AND DEMOCRATS THE ELECTION
During the election cycle the importance of Latino voters becomes even more apparent as either party attempts to garner Hispanic support. A recent Washington Post article outlined five myths about Latino voters. These myths include that Latinos:
- Do not vote.
- Are social conservatives who should lean Republican.
- Favor increased government services and therefore are reliable Democratic voters.
- Care most about immigration.
- Are swayed by the presence of a Latino candidate on the ballot.
A critical observation made in the piece concerns the importance this community places on certain policy issues, such as immigration. It is often assumed that immigration is consistently the single priority issue for the average Latino voter. The media often shape the immigration debate in terms of border issues withMexico, continued persecution, rising deportation rates, and the high number of Latin immigrants. Interestingly enough, the Hispanic population is worried about many of the same things as the rest of theUnited States. Polls have indicated that registered Latino voters are most worried about job creation and fixing the economy. Even though immigration reform is second in significance, it is closely followed by education and healthcare.
Through all the myths identified, it appears that the common theme is that this key group is misunderstood, due to many incorrect assumptions. What is the significance of these myths? For one, if they are mistakenly considered facts the inaccuracies have the potential to substantially affect the political process. Latinos are voting in great numbers and therefore politicians must be aware of this fact and cater to their interests, in garnering the Hispanic vote. Although the Hispanic population typically leans more right on topics such as abortion and marriage, these two issues do not decide the final party affiliation. For this reason, both parties are presented with the challenge of fighting for this key constituency and trying to reach some kind of compromise. Hand in hand with this argument is the assumption that Latino voters are always going to vote for the Democratic party due to a need for government services. But this is incorrect, as in the end the party affiliation is dependent on a wide range of factors.
The final myth is that Latino voters vote for candidates of Hispanic descent alone. This is highly inaccurate, because just like any other group, the Latino voter considers the entire package and which policy initiatives most directly correspond to his concerns and desires.
This analysis of the misinterpretation of the Latino voter is insightful since such mistakes are common across ethnic and socioeconomic group divisions. Politicians may pay particular attention to individual constituencies, but cannot forget to consider the entire package. Misinterpretations are common among the African American group as well, and only with further analysis and actual statistics may these myths be eliminated.