Things That Matter

Latinos Are Expected To Make A Huge Impact During The 2018 Midterm Elections

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There is no doubt that Latinos will make an impact during the 2018 midterm elections whether it’s at the polling booth or running for office. Latinos are America’s largest minority group, surpassing black people as a percentage of the population, and statistics show they tend to vote Democrat. According to the Pew Research Center, over 29 million Hispanics are eligible to vote in 2018 and make up 12.8 percent of all eligible voters, which are both new highs. But what does this really mean if more than half of Latinos don’t go out and vote?

The Latino voter turnout rate in midterm elections has declined since 2006 reaching a record low of 27 percent in 2014. 

During the last midterm cycle in 2014, Latinos didn’t make much of an impact at the polls as there was only a 27 percent voter turnout rate, which was a record low. Dan Sena, Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), hopes that 2014 was a learning lesson for Democrats that showed Latinos need more than just likable candidates to go out in vote.

“What we saw in the previous midterms was a lack on engagement on behalf of voters that may have been due to several factors including building relationships with Latino voters,” Sena says. “It may not have been a priority in the past but this time around we want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The DCCC is hoping to energize Latinos this year and not only get them vote but get them engaged in the political process.

The DCCC has put $30 million behind TV ads, mailing info and door to door campaigning in hopes of energizing Latinos and young voters to come to the polls. Their digital ads, which are Spanish language, have aired on Univision, Telemundo and other stations in eight large media markets including New Mexico and Texas. Sena says the organization began its campaign five days after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Sena feels that young voters will play a crucial part in whether Democrats can win back the house.

“Latino voters are looking to connect with Democratic candidates that stand on issues like affordable healthcare, education and jobs,” Sena explained. “We have spoken to many Latino families and these issues are a priority in many of their households.”

He feels that one of the biggest misconstructions of Latinos is that they don’t vote in as big numbers as other groups. Yet Latino voter engagement is one of the lowest among all minority groups in the United States. Sena says by getting to build these one on on relationships with Latino voters, the DCCC is getting to know what issues really matter to them.

According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos are more engaged in the 2018 midterms than prior elections.

According to The Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Latino registered voters say they have given the coming November midterm elections “quite a lot” of thought. That is a 16 percentage point increase from what they said about the last midterms in 2014. With that in mind, the DCCC hopes that interest will lead to votes on November 6. The DCCC has targeted 111 House districts this year which includes 29 where at least 10 percent of the eligible voters are Latinos. The hopes are that these votes lead to gaining at least 23 House seats and the majority in the House, currently controlled by the GOP.

Javier Gamboa, a spokesman for the DCCC, says that the organization has conducted a number of focus groups across the country, focusing on Latino voters who usually skip midterm elections, and have launched digital on real issues that affect hardworking Latino families.

“Our mission is to engage voters on issues that they care about and remind them of the power of their vote,” Gamboa says. “With all the backing and money we’ve put fourth, it will be Latinos that will be essential in flipping the House.”

Who are Latinos excited about in the 2018 midterms?

Sena says that this election cycle has seen some of the highest Latino participation than in recent memory and there has already been a great turnout when it comes to mail-in ballots. He says that candidates like Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico, Gil Cisneros in California and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida are in tight races. Latinos can make a huge impact with their vote in these key races, according to Sena.

The DCCC’s TV ads will be airing in these districts but what makes these commercials different then your usual political ad is that they’re not designated for that local area. The ads touch on values that are important to the Latino household like health, family and jobs that aren’t specific to one state but the entire Latino vote.

“Our battlefield is big and diverse. We got an amazing young crop of candidates because there is a desire for change,” Sena says. “People are asking who’s going to share our values and our concerns. This election is a chance for Latinos to go out and make their voices not only heard but make them count.”


READ: From Governorships To Congress, These Latinos Want To Lead The Country With Their Community In Mind

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2020 Democratic Candidates Know Latinos Could Tip The Election So They’ve Started Pulling Out All The Stops

Things That Matter

2020 Democratic Candidates Know Latinos Could Tip The Election So They’ve Started Pulling Out All The Stops

We are less than a year and a half away from the 2020 presidential election, and while the  incumbent President of the United States, real estate mogul and media personality turned politician Donald J. Trump is already tocando los tambores de guerra by attacking the  leading Democratic contenders, his potential opponents are still attacking each other. All around the country campaign offices are trying to come up with the best strategies, and have realizes that one key demographic for 2020 will be the Latino vote. 

As Jonathan Allen argues in NBC News : “Depending on how the race unfolds, Latinos might even end up being the key to the contest. That’s a function mostly of heavily Hispanic states, including California and Texas, moving up on the primary calendar at the same time that the chances for a protracted, delegate-by-delegate fight among several candidates appear to be more likely than ever. The possibility of African American voters splitting among several candidates for the first time in several presidential primary cycles also raises the stakes for candidates in trying to get an edge with Latino voters”. 

The candidates better start brushing up on their Spanish! (but please, no terrible gringo accents, porfavorcito). As Aida Chavez states in The Intercept after the debates a few weeks ago: “The desire to connect with Latinx voters was apparent in this week’s presidential debates, when several contenders made a direct appeal to the growing electorate by answering questions in Spanish on the national stage”. 

Latinos are a big, strong, decisive voting force for 2020: there will be 2 million more eligible Latino voters than African-American voters.

Credit: @abcfamily / Giphy

Just think about this: about 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election, which is about 13 percent of the electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. By contrast, African-American voters will have 30 million eligible voters. Just let that sink in for a minute. 

According to a poll released by Univision after the debates, Kamala Harris seems to be getting her message across to Latino voters.

Credit: Univision

The message to take away from this poll is that Harris was perceived as the winner of the debates over the only candidate with a recognizably Latino name, Julian Castro. Her identity as a powerful, independent, woman of color might be seeping into the Latino preference. This is an election about ideas rather than looks, and also an election about who seems better prepared to take on Trump, and if Latino voters start imagining Harris debating Trump and holding her ground, well, things might get interesting. 

And yes, the race among Democratic candidates is tight and getting tighter, with at least three clear frontrunners.

Credit: RealClearPolitics

Unless something really dramatic happens, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris will be the candidate. They are the ones polling the highest in the race for the nomination and whom Trump has directed his attacks against. 

It is clear that immigration will be the main issue in this election and Elzabeth Warren took the first step by announcing an ambitious and humane immigration plan.

Credit: Giphy

Unless a major international conflict arises before the election, immigration policies, including how undocumented migrants are treated after being detained at the border, will be the main issue. Elizabeth Warren took the first step by announcing her sweeping immigration plan.  She wrote in a post on Medium when announcing what immigration policy would look like under a Warren administration: “We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands.” 

As we reported at the time: “This is a very intelligent approach to immigration, as it appeals to both those worried about the economy and how the United States can respond to the competition of global markets, and to the voters who consider current zero-tolerance policies, including ICE raids, inadmissible”. 

But others are falling far behind: enter Bernie Sanders and his big “socialist” problem among Latinos.

One of the big mistakes that many politicians make while trying to woo the Latino vote is assuming that all Latinos fall on the same end of the political spectrum. Bernie Sanders has certainly been guilty of this by failing to recognize that many Latinos, particularly powerful pockets of influence in places like Florida, actually despise left-wing politicians. As NF News argued: “Declaring yourself left-wing may be attractive among an American youth who have never lived under a socialist regime. But among Latino voters who have been exiled from left-wing regimes, this has consequences. This was demonstrated by the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who is the co-chair of the campaign by presidential pre-candidate Bernie Sanders, Carmen Yulín Cruz, when she refused to acknowledge that she and Sanders are socialists. Both Cruz and Sanders have refused to condemn the dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela. Instead, Cruz chose to compare the humanitarian crisis facing Venezuela with poverty in Puerto Rico”. 

This is a big misstep, as Florida in particular is a key state for this and any other election, and Democratic voters are wary of candidates who might perform poorly in the state (remember Bush-Gore anyone?). 

There are some voices of reason in Sander’s campaign, as reported by The Intercept in an interview with Chuck Rocha, a senior Sanders adviser. “: “We know that we’re going to communicate with young Latinos in English, we know we’re going to communicate with young Latinos in Spanish. We also understand the cultural differences between Latinos in Des Moines, Iowa, and Latinos in the East Side of Las Vegas.”

The no-show: Joe Biden?

The former Vice President has sent conflicting messages on how important the Latino vote is for his campaign. On one hand, as reported by NBC News, “Biden’s outreach has included a fully bilingual website, bilingual advertising and the first candidate meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus”. On the other, he has missed key appearances at events where he could reach to Latino Democrats. As reported by The Boston Globe, he was a no-show at  “an important forum hosted by the Spanish-language network Telemundo and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials that drew more than 800 of the nation’s top Latino policy makers and strategists”. Sanders and Warren attended. This lack of engagement could cost him dearly, as noted by the same publication: 

Denise Diaz, a 32-year-old city councilwoman from South Gate, Calif., said this was the second time Biden had disappointed her. The first was when he skipped California’s Democratic convention three weeks earlier.

“I have really changed my opinion in supporting him,” she said. “I am looking for someone who is relatable, has boots on the ground, and is accessible.”

You know what they say: camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente. 

Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris Wants To Invest $1 Billion To Test The Shameful Backlog Of Rape Kits In The US

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Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris Wants To Invest $1 Billion To Test The Shameful Backlog Of Rape Kits In The US

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Ahead of her scheduled appearance on the Rachel Maddow show, Kamala Harris made a huge announcement on Thursday. The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee and former District Attorney said that if she wins the White House, she wants to invest $1 billion to eliminate the rape kit backlog nationwide. 

Kamala Harris’ plan is the “first of its kind of a 2020 Democratic candidate, the California Democrat’s plan would invest the money into states, allowing them to close their rape kit backlogs and prevent further buildups, within her first term” if elected into the Oval Office, according to CNN

The 2020 Democratic presidential nominee tweeted that her plan to close the nationwide rape kit backlog “would cost about $2 million less each year than what taxpayers have spent on Trump’s golf trips.” 

According to CNN, “the campaign linked this rollout to the news of Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire indicted this week on charges of sex trafficking and sexually assaulting teenage girls.” Earlier this week, when news broke, Harris also called for U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta –– who served as Miami U.S. Attorney and cut the plea deal for Epstein –– to resign. 

“It’s time we had someone in the White House who is committed to fighting for survivors, not protecting predators,” she tweeted.  

According to END THE BACKLOG, a national non-profit organization founded by actress and activist Mariska Hargitay with the mission to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, “every 92 seconds, someone is assaulted in the United States.” 

END THE BACKLOG also reports that it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in the police department and crime lab storage facilities across the country. This is what’s known as the rape kit backlog. But since most jurisdictions do not have systems in place for counting or tracking rape kits tested, END THE BACKLOG says “we cannot be sure of the total number of untested rape kits nationwide.” 

Rape kits are used by medical professionals to collect evidence while they examine survivors of sexual assault. The DNA extracted from rape kits is a useful tool to solve and prevent sexual assault crimes as well. Refinery29 reports that in the past decade, “about 225,000 known untested rape kits have been uncovered.” 

And while a growing number of states across the U.S. are fighting toward ending the backlog, there’s more work to be done. Since it costs an average $1,000 to $1,500 to test one rape kit, Harris’ plan to invest $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide would hopefully make a powerful difference.  

In a statement to CNN, Harris said, “The federal government can and should prioritize justice for survivors of sex abuse, assault, and rape. As California’s Attorney General, I committed resources and attention to clearing a backlog of 1,300 untested rape kits at state-run labs, and we got it done within my first year in office. We need the same focus at the nationwide level to pursue justice and help hold predators accountable.” 

She also took to Instagram to announce her proposal of investing $1 billion to end rape kit backlog nationwide. In her caption, she wrote:

“In the last decade, roughly 225,000 untested rape kits have been uncovered. Too many survivors aren’t getting the justice they deserve. As president, I will close the nationwide rape kit backlog by the end of my first term.” 

According to USA Today, Harris’ proposal “states would receive additional funding for testing if they conduct an annual count and report of untested rape kits. The plan also would require law enforcement agencies to submit rape kits ‘within a short time frame,’ update victims who want to know about the status of testing of their rape kits and would increase the availability of rape kits for law enforcement, particularly in remote and rural areas.”  

CNN also interviewed RAINN President Scott Berkowitz said that Harris’ new proposal “would do wonders for ongoing efforts.”

“The backlog has been a huge and ongoing problem, we’ve been making progress on it over time, but having that large of a federal commitment would do wonders for testing the rest of the cases that haven’t been tested yet,” he said. 

“From the survivors’ standpoints, these kits are the result of really long, really unpleasant rape examinations where soon after the assaults, they are poked and prodded and they gather everything from the victim’s body and the clothing. It’s the last thing anyone wants to go through and to put yourself that and not have evidence even tested is a terrible statement and demoralizing,” he adds. 

Many women on social media were also open about how necessary and overdue this investment on the rape kit backlog would be.