Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

How long will we talk about Latino turnout before someone does something about it?

Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before.

On Saturday, the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project announced its 2012 goal of raising Latino voting in Texas to 2 million from the 1.7 million who voted in the last presidential election, according to its own polling.

Like other groups, SVREP sets up at community events to engage nonvoters. After registering new ones, it puts them in a phone database.

“Our niche has always been to contact new voters and help that voter become a high-propensity voter,” SVREP Vice President Lydia Camarillo said.

“We believe that there will be 300,000 new voters compared to ’08, which would be the highest increase in Texas history,” she said.

Altogether, Latinos 18 and over represent a potential voting bloc of 6.1 million in Texas that has still to exercise its power.

Political science Professor Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University thinks SVREP’s goal is unrealistic.

“Only 1.2 million Latinos cast votes in the 2008 presidential election in Texas. Two million votes cast in 2012 is a very ambitious target, more likely to inspire voter registration workers than actually to be met,” he said.


“But the most curious approach to voter registration has not been by the Republicans,” Jillson said. It’s been the Democratic Party, which “has never taken voter registration as seriously as it needs to.”

He said Democrats ought to focus on naturalization first.

“Thirty percent of Hispanics are noncitizens, but many of them are eligible to become citizens,” he said.

Jillson also accuses some Democrats of being comfortable with current turnout and not being particularly interested in increasing the number of non-Anglo Democratic voters.

“It’s an important, but delicate issue.” he said.

“The Democrats have not won a statewide race since 1994,” Gambitta added in email comments. “They will not carry this state in the near future unless they increase the size of the voting population to include those who rarely vote.”

But what really irks him is the lackluster attention the Democrat Party gives “to the large, untapped, eligible youth vote.”

“It’s amazing, simply amazing, in fact, it’s tragic,” [UTSA’s Richard] Gambitta said, “especially when the debt is being laid on the heads of the young as the members of both parties kick the can down the road on the huge deficits, and simultaneously cut education.”

I don’t disagree with any of this, but as I’ve said before, the issue that never seems to get discussed whenever this topic comes up is M-O-N-E-Y. All these things cost money, lots of money. The TDP is an easy scapegoat, but they don’t have any money. Most of the county parties don’t have much money, either. I’m sure we could have a lively discussion about whose fault all of that is, but it’s not going to help with the matter at hand. Where is the money going to come from to address these issues, and who is going to be in charge of it to resolve them? That’s what I’d like to know. Frankly, I don’t see how any of this gets anywhere in the absence of a Presidential campaign, which is why I keep hoping that Team Obama decides to give a challenge to Rick Perry here in his back yard. If we’re starting out with 2008 as the baseline for 2012, and we remember that Rick Perry is less popular than you might think here, it makes sense to me. But it’s not up to me, so all we can do is keep talking. Campos has more.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.