KCTS 9 Connects/The Latino Vote - September 28, 2012

CNX: The Latino Vote 9/28/12
  • KCTS 9 Connects

The Latino Vote

Political Scientist Matt Barreto gives insights into the Latino vote as we head into the final stretch of the 2012 election.

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  • Unofficial Transcript

About the Episode

This week, Political Scientist Matt Barreto gives us insights into the Latino vote as we head into the final stretch of the 2012 election. Barreto is co-founder of Latino Decisions, an independent polling group. The group's recent polling focuses on Latino voters enthusiasm in the 2012 elections and which political party will benefit.

In addition, Barreto discusses his analysis of the Washington state primary election race between Justice Steven Gonzalez and attorney Bruce Danielson, and the issue of racial voting bias.

Plus, state representatives Phyllis Gutierrez Kenny and Luis Moscoso discusses the challenges of electing Latinos to political office in Washington state.

Related:
Northwest News Network: Part 1 - Electeds
Northwest News Network: Part 2 - Voting Rights
Northwest News Network: Part 3 - Districts
Northwest News Network: Part 4 - Young Latinos

Enrique:
Coming up next on KCTS-9 connects, the Latino vote. What will be the impact of Latino voters in the 2012 elections? Which political party is attracting Latino support and why? Political scientist matt Baretto of Latino decisions here with the latest tracking polls. Plus, Baretto's analysis of the Gonzalez Danielson state supreme court race. And the finding of racial voter bias. We'll get reaction from justice Gonzalez and Luis Moscoso. And our insiders round table weighs in on the top stories of the week. KCTS-9 connects is next

unidentified:
Local production and broadcast of KCTS-9 connects with Enrique Cerna is played possible by the Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation. And by KCTS-9 members. Become a member today by going to KCTS9.org. Thank you.

unidentified:
Taking you beyond the headlines of northwest news, issues, and politics, this is KCTS-9 connects with Enrique Cerna.

Enrique:
As the largest minority group in the U.S., Latinos could have a major impact in the 2012 elections, especially in the presidential race. Both political parties are keenly aware of that fact and have stepped up their outreach to attract Latino voters. Last week, republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared in a forum sponsored by the Spanish language network Uno and Facebook, to make his case to voters as he talked about the economy, health care, education, and immigration. A day later, it was president Obama's turn to address those same issues at the forum. So what are the issues that matter most to Latino voters? Which party is attracting their support and why? We turn to political scientist matt Baretto for answers. He is a university of Washington political science professor and a cofounder of Latino decisions, an independent polling group that tracks Latino issues. Matt, let's start first with why Latinos, why are they important in this election.

Matt Barreto:
I think you said it in the introduction, it's the fastest growing group in the American electorate. And right now, they're positioned in key states. So it's not just that Latinos are growing but Latinos are very large in states like Florida, Colorado, these are states that will decide the presidential election. And now, we have additional states, north Carolina, Virginia, and even Iowa is a state we're keeping our eye on as somewhere that the Latino population has really taken off, and now they're voting and they're in that voting pool and could decide the election.

Enrique:
You've been doing this tracking poll for five weeks now, looking to see how people are thinking in the Latino community. And let's start with the issues really that matter most to them.

Barreto:
Sure.

Enrique:
And as we say, like everybody else, it's jobs and the economy, that's 62%. Immigration reform though is right up there. About half of the percentage here. That is something that is on their minds.

Barreto:
And that is something, of course, jobs and the economy are the number 1 concern, we're finding that on polls of all Americans this year. But immigration reform is a very salient issue in the Latino community, very symbolic. These are U.S. citizens, registered to vote, we asked them, do you know any undocumented? Over half of Latino voters know a friend or family member who is undocumented. So the issue is intertwined in our community and continues to show up in the polls.

Enrique:
And with the dream act, I imagine that's part of this.

Barreto:
Absolutely. The dream act got so much attention. Unfortunately, it didn't pass. But now, the president is coming back with the executive order of the dream act. We now have a temporary dream act. Is it going to be permanent? So that keeps it in the news for Latinos.

Enrique:
Let's quickly go through these other numbers. That's the impression of the candidates, very favorable, it's high for president Obama. Very unfavorable, pretty low and the numbers are pretty reversed here for Mitt Romney, not doing well with the Latino community there. Let's also look at how the reaching out, the outreach on the two parties is going here. For the democrats, most Latinos think that they're doing very well, almost 60% saying that they're doing a job, and let's go to the republicans. And they're not doing so well. Because I guess there's an impression that the republicans don't care. Is that really connect to the immigration in the heartland there?

Barreto:
Yeah. I think that's a huge part of it. Theres two category there's on that shot you showed, that they don't care much about our community, but also that they're being hostile. And that's something that traditionally we didn't really see in politics, that groups thought that parties were attacking them because they're supposed to be courting our vote. And there's a solid 20%, sometime as high as 30% of Latinos who think because of that immigration rhetoric, remember herman Cain said we should have an electric fence, that the republican party has a very bad image in the Latino community.

Enrique:
And Mitt Romney talking about self-deportation, that's not doing well. Let's look at some other issues. We're looking at trust, women's issues. Obviously, the democrats are doing quite well there because some of the things that have been said by the republicans that also isn't helping Mitt Romney that much. Moving on to other issues here, that is security, foreign policy, right now in the Latino community, they believe that president Obama and the democrats are handling this quite well. Let's move on to the next area here. Now, if the election were held today, right now, it's president Obama that has Latino votes by, with a total of 69% there. If you look at all the numbers. Let's look at Mitt Romney here. Not so much, not doing well. What is at the heart of the reason he's not doing well?

Barreto:
Well, I think there's a couple of reasons he's not connecting. First of all, as you mentioned, going back to the primary, Mitt Romney moved to the right to try to secure that primary nomination. He said a lot of really conservative things related to immigration, bilingual education, all sorts of things that are important in the Latino community. And that really hurt him. He had the comment about self-deportation, he had the comment that the Arizona immigration laws are a model for the nation. These are things that don't play well. So that really hurt. The second thing that was a problem was his very first outreach ad, his first outreach to Latinos was an ad about Obama-care, and he said, I'm going to repeal this on day one and translated into into Spanish. Latinos have the highest rates of being uninsured. And Obama-care is something that we like, we think it's going to address some of the problems in the community. So he came out and said, oh, that health care bill that you like, I'm going to repeal that. So the messages wa very bad and out of the gate.

Enrique:
Let's look at enthusiasm here. This is something that is probably increasing as you look at the polling here. If you look back in 2008, this is how they looked, almost 30%, now it seems to be climbing.

Barreto:
That's right. The enthusiasm question will be very, very important. That 69/24 split that you showed, that won't matter if voter turn-out is very low in these states like Colorado, Nevada, Florida. So enthusiasm is starting to creep up in our polling numbers. So we need to keep an eye on this.

Enrique:
This week, you did an analysis that showed that in the race for supreme court, steven Gonzalez, who had been a justice, now won a six-year term, is running against Bruce Danielson, a Kitsap county attorney. And Danielson got a lot of votes and a high percentage. There was a map that you had that shows that if you look at the state, pretty much central and eastern Washington went completely for Danielson, it was the western part of the state where the most population helped the justice win. But the issue there more than anything is that you found racial voting bias.

Barreto:
That's exactly right. So what we did was there was a lot of speculation after this. Here, we had Danielson as someone who didn't raise money or campaign, how did he win all of those counties in eastern Washington? And so we waited until the official data came out, we took all of the precinct results from the counties, got the actual data from them, we looked at the percentage of Latinos or non-Latinos in all the precincts, and we found a very clears correlation in places like Yakima and grant county and other places in eastern Washington.

Enrique:
Let's look at that. Yakima county first. As you see here, actually, Danielson did better than maria cantwell or Michael Baumgartner, did getter than rob McKenna. And he did not do any campaigning at all.

Barreto:
Yeah. This is what is amazing. Danielson is expect to have won 75% among white voters in Yakima. 20 points higher than rob McKenna, who was campaigning out there, raising money, and doing appearances. And this leads us to believe that when we look at those correlations, that it had to do with racially polarized voting.

Enrique:
And this quickly goes to, there's grant county, the number's pretty much the same. You can see that in eastern Washington. And that looks like it's Snohomish County because it's this side of the mountains. Now, that's where you started to see the change and big impressions there. But what does this mean? I guess we have about a minute left here as far as Latinos and running for political office in Washington state, particularly central Washington.

Barreto:
We have a state-wide candidate who competed across all counties in the state. And we found isolated areas. We didn't find a correlation in Snohomish County. But we found isolated areas where the candidate's ethnicity appears to have negatively affected him. In Yakima, he did very well with Latino voters but with white voters, he was losing very, very badly. So I think this has implications on local elections. Justice Gonzalez won state-wide. But if he was running in Yakima county, he would have lost. What does this say about our system where a supreme court justice who was extremely well qualified would have lost to someone who raised no money and whether or not there was voting bias because of his name.

Enrique:
We'll leave it there. We'll talk more about this. We have posted links to this information. And also, you're going to be joining us with the Washington poll in October. Matt Baretto, thanks.

Barreto:
My pleasure as always, Enrique. ¶¶

Enrique:
This week, public radio's northwest news network has been reporting stories about Latinos and politics in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The network looked at the percentage of Latino population and Latinos elected to office. In counties throughout those states. In all cases, they found the number of Latinos elect to political office is far lower than the hispanic share of the population. In fact, across the region, the Latino population is estimated at 12% and growing. But the number of Latinos elect to office is only 2%. Joining me now are three people who find those numbers troubling.State representative Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, who's been representing the 46th district, however, she's retiring from the legislature at the end of year this. Justice Stephen Gonzalez was appointed to the supreme court last September by Governor Gregoire. He was elected to a six-year term on the high court in October. And Luis Moscoso, who represents the first legislative district, covering parts of Snohomish and King County. And thank you all for being here. Mr. Justice, let's start with you, your case, your race has made news this week and a finding by matt Baretto who we walked to earlier of racial voter bias. Your reaction to what was there.

unidentified:
I don't know if it's a double entendre to say my race has made the news. Here we are talking about it that way. But I think it points out the need to have this discussion. And really, we had a reaction to the election itself but the numbers report by professor Baretto help us understand what's going on. And it's important to have the numbers when wee the discussion.

Enrique:
We showed this map earlier. We'll show it again and how it broke down. Overall, you had 60% of the vote, enabled you to not have to run in the general election, but Mr. Danielson, who managed to get almost 40%, and he didn't do anything as far as campaigning. I know you knew that. But it was really those western Washington states, central, eastern Washington, big difference. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, you grow up, we're both from that small town in central Washington. Got to find this a bit disturbing.

unidentified:
I find it very disturbing after all these years. We moved to Washington in 1942. So there's been a lot of families that have been there for a long time. So to look at this map and to see this happen in eastern Washington was very disturbing, especially in some areas where we know that we could have made a difference.

Enrique:
Luis Moscoso, I think this brings a bigger issue to getting Latinos elected to office and the challenge of doing so. If you look, this is another statistic that the northwest news network found. In nine counties across central Washington, Latinos are more than 33% of the total population, but they only hold 4% of the local elected offices. And it's nine counties combined. 66 county offices, 51 judges, 21 county commissioners, not a single Latino in all of that. So getting people to run for office, that seems to only add to the challenge.

unidentified:
It does add to the challenge but thank you for having this show today. Because I think this is part of what is going to make this issue more relevant and widespread. We need a dialogue. In our own community, not only the Latino community, but also between the majority community and all minority communities in this state. I think that's been the problem. I'm not surprised to see the outcome, but now, we have reached the tipping point where the discussion must take place and I think things will change.

Enrique:
What kind of discussion do we need to have?

unidentified:
Well, we need to talk about what the numbers mean. Because a typical reaction to looking at the math is, well, it's simply an east/west divide or a political divide, conservative liberal. But when you look at the numbers, that can't be the case. Because you have my opponent, who never left his house as far as I could tell, had no support whatsoever, and I had bipartisan support, did better than rob McKenna did in many of the precincts. What explains that? People say it's the east/west divide or the liberal/conservative divide but bob Ferguson won in 10 counties in eastern Washington and I didn't win in a single eastern Washington county, despite campaigning there and getting endorsed by all the major newspapers, and putting humility aside, being far better qualified than my opponent in every measure. In fact, in his own county, the bar poll had me winning 9 to 2, and I suspect he may have voted. So I think we need to look at those numbers and say, what do they mean and how did people vote? We didn't send out state-wide voters pamphlets for the primary and my race was decided then. And in counties where we sent out the pamphlets, I did very well. So I think the lesson is when we send out pamphlets, people make good choices or better ones. And when they don't, they resort to a bias or knee jerk reaction.

Enrique:
How do you respond to those that say, well, if they could get elect, but the fact is maybe they're not conservative or republican enough because those counties tend to lean conservative and republican, which is a pretty good point I think.

unidentified:
Well, it's true. And we've had a couple of people in eastern Washington that have ran on the republican ticket because they knew they couldn't win on the democratic ticket there. But that's also something that needs to change. Are we going to give up our values and what we believe in to have a "D" or an "R" behind our name? And how are we going to fight that and how are we going to work with the community to make them strong? But a lot of it is statistics show that we have a lot of voters, but it's not just registering, it's getting them to vote that's the difficulty. And I think that's something that we have to correct too by education.

Enrique:
So what do you do to get people to run for office? This is you're a freshman and wrapping up your freshman term in the legislature. What motivated you to do this and how do you get others to do the same?

unidentified:
What motivated me to run for office?

Enrique:
Yeah.

unidentified:
I retired.

Enrique:
Oh, you had time.

unidentified:
And there was an open seat. I don't know how people do it when they have families and full-time jobs. But getting back to what justice Gonzalez said about understanding the numbers. I think it's important because it certainly appears to be the case. And I agree with him that the numbers don't make sense in eastern Washington. So making sure that we have that kind of dialogue over there, but not kind of east/west, us telling them how to think as much as having them ask themselves the question and looking at those numbers. So who's going to conduct and facilitate that kind of conversation in eastern Washington? I don't want to see us west siders make them feel like they're making some mistake. They need to ask themselves what happened here. And I'd like to be part of that dialogue too. I think most of us would. But it has to be something that's open and frank. The numbers don't lie. We need to have those explained. And I would like to have folks over there tell me what it means.

Enrique:
You had sponsored in the state legislature this past session voting rights act.

unidentified:
Right.

Enrique:
Didn't get anywhere.

unidentified:
No.

Enrique:
And in essence, that would give the opportunity for groups to challenge the way kind of the format and things are set up in certain counties. Yakima county is facing the challenge right now from the ACLU regarding that. What's the possibility next time around? You're not going to be there, so who's going to follow this up?

unidentified:
Well, I think we have some real supporters there in the house. And I think that we will, I know it will be introduced again. And I know that there's a lot more support for that. But it only makes sense. Because even, not just in eastern Washington but in other areas like, for example, the Seattle city council, you know, where it's done, the school boards are done by district, and then it's at large kind of thing. And that doesn't make any sense. And the same thing in eastern Washington. And we have a lot of good, you know, examples, especially in Yakima, where we've had a couple of examples.

Enrique:
I'm going to give you the last word. We only have about 15 seconds left. What do you want people to understand about this?

unidentified:
That minority rights now will be the majority's rights soon, because the population is changing. I'd suggest we address it now so it's fair for everyone, so it continues to be in the future.

unidentified:
All right. We're going to have more conversations about this in the future no doubt. Thank you all. And we will see where this conversation leads.

unidentified:
Thank you. ¶¶

Enrique:
We turn now to our insiders round table to take up some of the top stories of the week. Joining me political strategist Chris Vance, Joni balter, assistant political editor with the Seattle times, and Joel Connelly, columnist with Seattlepi.com. Okay. So the negative ads are going to start and they already have started. Let's look at the first one. This is a McKenna campaign ad striking at jay Inslee. Here we go.

unidentified:
For 15 years in congress, jay Inslee's voted for more government, bigger deficits. Now, the centerpiece of Inslee's jobs plan is a new state government agency. Just more government for businesses to deal with. Jay Inslee, more government, more taxes, more lost jobs.

unidentified:
The last thing I need is another state agency and jay inslee's government bureaucrats telling me how to run my business. Rob McKennas plan will help the private sector create jobs, not make government bigger. Vote for McKenna.

unidentified:
Paid for by friends of rob McKenna for Governor.

Enrique:
All right. As I understand it earlier today, the Inslee campaign is coming out with their own negative ad.

Joel:
Strangely, they are going directly to a straight on rob McKenna, namely criticizing him on education, something that causes you to get a little bit saucer-eyed since Inslee's education program is mainly anecdotes about the last school district he visited.

Enrique:
Let's talk about this ad hitting at jay Inslee, the message there creating a state agency that would work on developing jobs.

Chris:
Three key things in that job. One, jay Inslee's been in congress for 15 years. Nobody likes congress right now. You'll hear that phrase over and over from the McKenna campaign. Second, a new state agency. Independents hate the idea of more government and more bureaucracy. And third, at the end, another message out to women. A female small business owner, again looking into the camera saying it's okay to vote for rob McKenna. So it's a really good ad.

Enrique:
And according to the women's vote, the other ad that is out with rob McKenna and his daughters and his wife, you know, talking about their background and their family and all that.

Joni:
And then there's another ad that has a woman, always with a woman with bad news shall we say, talking about that she doesn't think that the rob McKenna that we've seen is the real rob McKenna. So women are so important in this election. But as we talk, it's all the different groups are being, you know, people want to talk to hispanic voters, they want to talk to white male voters in a republican Governor's association ad clearly aimed, you know, there's disagreement about how effective that ad was versus shaking his head, but you know, targeting that group of voters. So it's very much in groups that the candidates are talking.

Joel:
I wonder, I guess the McKenna campaign has polling data on this, but I have greasy spoon data.

[LAUGHTER] Several Washington restaurants in recent times, heard people grousing about the democrats being in power for all this time. I guess 28 years in the governorship and so on. So Chris and I, we talked about this a little bit, why are they not using the 27-year itch and why are they using 15 years in congress?

Chris:
You know, I liked that message too, I liked it a lot. The thing about campaigns, Joni's right, and it's part art and part science. You look at your polling data, what messages move the voters, and you write your ads accordingly. McKenna believes that this ad is going to move voters. And I think the message about jay Inslee being in congress will move voters.

Enrique:
I want to ask about the debate that we have coming up, KCTS-9, KYVE, Yakima herald republic, association of Washington hispanic chambers of commerce, and yes, it is a shameless plug that we're doing this. And yes, I'm the moderator for it. And anyway, what do you think is going to be the key in this debate? And now, there are two other debates scheduled too. What are you looking for from the candidates?

Joni:
Both candidates have hurdles to get over. So jay Inslee, all the polling show is liked. Rob McKenna, people seem to think is very smart. So when they get there side by side, they both have to sort of reaffirm their strengths, but also add dimensions to themselves.

Chris:
This is the issue that affects the debates and the ads and everything else, it's really simple. Polling is showing that this state is swinging heavily to the democrats, as president Obama polls away nationwide. Rob McKenna has to convince tens of thousands of people who are going to vote for Barack Obama and maria cantwell, why they should switch over and vote for him. All the pressure's on McKenna. All Inslee has to do is say I'm a democrat. McKenna has to convince a whole bunch of democrats why they should vote for him and not another democrat.

Joel:
Well, when I was a kid, my parents crossed back over to vote for dan evans for Governor. And in the midst of the Lynden Johnson landslide. They liked him, I think my mother's words were, he seems like a nice big drink of water and he has some good ideas for this state.

Joni:
Well, a drink of water is usually not a positive...

Joel:
Well, she treat it like that, but the two aspects of this were that he had some ideas what he was going to do for the state. Imagine running on the slogan, blueprint for progress, but he did. And secondly, they liked him. And I think on those two anchors, he overcame a great landslide for the presidency for the other party.

Enrique:
Right. Hes did do that. Let's talk about the Lieutenant Governor's race, which has been testy at times. Brad owens has been in that position a long time, he's a democrat. Bill Finkbeiner has hit him hard. The public disclosure commission has come out with a fine against Brad owen. Do you think that makes any difference in this race?

Chris:
No. There's a lot of insiders who don't like the job that Brad owen has done, a lot of liberals who think he's too moderate. And the Lieutenant Governor has a role in the process chairing the Senate rules committee. A lot of liberals don't like Brad owen. A lot of other people think that he's done stuff that's not the Lieutenant Governor's job, traveling a lot, and dramatically expanding his staff. So there's a lot of insiders who don't like Brad owen, but the voters don't know him and don't know any of this stuff, and there's not going to be any money spent in this race, so...

Enrique:
You have a story you want to share.

Joel:
It's a case of what Peter in a wonderful editorial in the herald wrote today called purgatory. Once upon a time, there was a democratic leader named Jamie shortenson. And a down ballot candidate starts grousing about the lack of attention, the lack of the campaigning and so on. And shortenson points across the water and says, you see that statin island fair ferry coming in? Yes. Well, the staten island ferry brings an awful lot of sludge witness. Well, franklin D. Roosevelt is the staten island ferry and you're the sludge.

[LAUGHTER] That applies.

Enrique:
Right.

Joni:
I just heard on the radio that Brad owen is the longest serving Lieutenant Governor that's still in that job. He did, he had his mother as his accountant. And so this has been going on for a little while. And it was very much below the surface and still on the back pages of the paper. But the opponent, bill Finkbeiner, has definitely been trying to get some attention on this.

Enrique:
He's been hitting him very hard. We'll leave it there. Thanks a lot. Have a great weekend. ¶¶ The KCTS-9 league of women voters debate series continues. Coming up Monday, October 1st, at 1:00 p.m., we'll hear from supporters and opponents of initiative 502, the state-wide ballot measure to legalize marijuana in Washington state. Following that debate, we'll hear from the candidates for secretary of state, Kathleen drew and Kim Wyman. Then on Tuesday, October 2nd at 7:00 p.m., live from the Yakima convention center, the gubernatorial debate with democrat jay Inslee and republican rob McKenna. KCTS-9 and KYVE 47 in Yakima, in partnership with the association of Washington state hispanic chambers of commerce and the Yakima herald republic, are presenting the debate, airing state-wide on public television and radio. And on October 12th at 7:00 p.m., KCTS-9 and the league of women voters bring you the only U.S. Senate debate scheduled so far between democratic incumbent maria can'twell and her republican challenger Michael Baumgartner. You can find more information on our web page, KCTS9.org/vote 2012. And that's all for this edition of KCTS-9 connects. You can stay connected to us anytime. E-mail your comments or suggestions to CNX@kCTS9.org. Follow our news and programming on twitter. And become a fan of our KCTS-9 Facebook page. Thanks for joining us. I'm Enrique Cerna and we'll see you next time.

unidentified:
Local production and broadcast of KCTS-9 connects with Enrique Cerna is made possible by the Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation. And by KCTS-9 members. Become a member today by going to KCTS9.org. Thank you.

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