Monday, January 28, 2008

Clinton's Myth -- Black/Latino Disaffection

A while back a Clinton pollster and their Latino vote expert suggested that Latinos won't vote for a Black Candidate -- that there is historic disaffection. And not only didn't Hillary fire him, she agree with him. Gregory Rodriguez begs to differ with this analysis, which has since become "conventional wisdom."
So why these statements about Latinos not voting for Blacks --which Rodriguez notes isn't true. Tom Bradley received large Hispanic majorities, as did David Dinkins in NY and Harold Washington in Chicago?

So, given all this evidence, why did this notion get repeated so nonchalantly? For one, despite the focus on demographic changes in America, journalists' ignorance of the aspirations of Latino America is pretty remarkable. They just don't know much about the biggest minority in the nation. And two, no Latino organizations function in the way that, say, the Anti-Defamation League does for Jewish Americans. In other words, you can pretty much say whatever you want about Latinos without suffering any political repercussions.

Unlike merely "exuberant" supporters, whose mushy grasp of facts Clinton has explained by saying they can sometimes be "uncontrollable," pollsters such as Bendixen most certainly work -- and speak -- at the whim and in the pay of the candidate.

So what would the Clinton campaign have to gain from spreading this misinformation? It helps
undermine one of Obama's central selling points, that he can build bridges and unite Americans of all types, and it jibes with the Clinton strategy of pigeon-holing Obama as the "black candidate." (Witness Bill Clinton's statement last week that his wife might lose South Carolina because of Obama's growing black support.)

What is gained in this for Clinton? Ah, her campaign, having decided it's lost the Black vote, can create a sense of division where there isn't to confuse and manipulate a portion of the electorate. This isn't the kind of direction this nation needs to go. We've had years of it now, and it's time to do go a new direction. We need to open the window and let in some fresh air!


haitianministries said...

This myth, of course, is based on another myth--that Latinos are racially homogenous--and ignores the fact the significant numbers of Black Latinos (primarily from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic) will contribute to the Latino vote as well (and, undoubtedly, many of those votes will be cast for reasons other than race).

The Clintons, as you've pointed out, are using racial stereotyping as part of a divide and conquer strategy, a strategy that may well have backfired in S.C. given that Obama won way bigger than any of the polls suggested was possible. Hopefully, they've learned their lesson and given it up. But, if not, then I hope it continues to backfire on them.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

See also: this great article on "white voters deserve more credit."

Black and Latino blogs are abuzz with the Clinton race-baiting and setting groups at odds. And, speaking as a white Southerner who has lived most of my life in the South: Hillary hatred is intense here. Obama has a much better chance of winning "red" states in November than Clinton does: I think he could win Virginia, NC, SC, GA, TN, KY, MO--maybe even FL and TX--and Clinton cannot win any of those states in Nov. (On the other hand, Obama will need other surrogates in Southern states. Few in the South share my affection for Ted Kennedy--who is widely viewed here as a drunk womanizer who got away with manslaughter in the Chappaquiddick incident. LOONG memories. Further, Southern white Dems still blame Kennedy for Jimmy Carter's loss to Reagan in '80. So, however much Kennedy's campaigning will help in CA and the Northeast, I hope he stays out of the South! HERE we could use someone like Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)--former Sec. of Navy-- campaigning on his behalf. Has Webb endorsed anyone, yet?)