Monday, August 22, 2011

Obama Campaign Targets Hispanic Voters - A Segment Dispised by the GOP

In what is obviously a common sense approach given the GOP's general contempt for Hispanic citizens and non-citizens alike (outright hatred might be a better description), the Obama campaign is targeting younger Hispanic voters as a niche that needs to be mobilized in 2012. The GOP is increasingly white, religiously extreme, and obsessed with protecting "White America" as illustrated in the image at left. As a result, Hispanics ought to be supportive of the Democrats as opposed to the GOP. The same, of course, applies to blacks, non-Christians, those of foreign birth, and the LGBT community all of who are viewed as a menace by the Tea Party and Christianists. Here are some highlights from a Washington Post piece that looks at the Obama administration's efforts on this front:

While most of Washington was embroiled in the debt-ceiling drama last month, about 160 Hispanic leaders from across the country filed into the White House one day, largely unnoticed.

For two days, they enjoyed full access to top presidential advisers, Cabinet members and administration officials from across the government. Before the participants left town, they received a glossy 33-page booklet detailing talking points to be shared back home — 1.9 million Hispanics kept out of poverty by the stimulus, $808 million in loans last year to Hispanic small businesses, and an extra $1 billion directed to colleges with large numbers of Hispanic students, to name a few.

The event was part of broader efforts by the White House and Obama’s reelection campaign to rekindle excitement among Hispanic voters, many of whom have turned their backs on the president amid disappointment over his immigration policies. Key to the strategy is shifting voters’ attention beyond the caustic immigration debate with data-driven appeals that show progress in other areas, while arguing that Obama is better on immigration than any of his potential Republican foes.

The tensions — and the administration’s aggressive efforts to soothe them — reached a climax of sorts in a flurry of activity last week, with the administration making a surprise announcement Thursday that it was giving officials discretion to suspend certain deportation cases that have drawn fire from critics, such as ones involving young people brought to the country in early childhood.

The White House outreach strategy underscores the quandary facing Obama and his aides, who are struggling to keep their hold on a voter bloc that was a key piece of the president’s 2008 coalition of minorities, young people and white liberals and is expected to play an even greater role in deciding his reelection.

Obama won two-thirds of the Hispanic vote in 2008 after pledging that overhauling immigration policies would be a top priority in his first term. While immigration does not always rank as the No. 1 issue for Hispanics, activists say Obama’s failure to pass legislation granting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, combined with a deportation program that has removed more than 1 million illegal immigrants since 2009, has stirred deep disappointment.

Obama’s job approval rating among Hispanics has plummeted since its high mark in April 2009, according to Gallup, from 85 percent to 49 percent this month.

But keeping Hispanics enthusiastic has gotten more difficult. They have been hit harder than non-Hispanic whites in the recession, with unemployment in that group topping 11 percent and home foreclosures devastating Hispanic-heavy neighborhoods in Nevada and Florida.

And, despite frequent efforts to blame Republicans for blocking an immigration bill, many Hispanics wonder why the president didn’t push harder when his party ran Congress.

The last issue is one that plagues many voters: why didn't Obama do more when the Democrats held both houses of Congress? Had Obama been a leader rather than a follower, perhaps thing might have been very different.

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