How Latinos Can Shut Down Republicans in 2014 [Opinion]

GOP risks Latino backlash with government shutdown.

October 13, 2013, 11:34 AM

Oct. 13, 2013— -- After the 2012 election, Latinos were told that our vote was important. Over seven in ten Latinos cast their ballot for a president who supports sensible immigration reform, affordable healthcare, and more middle-class jobs.

But despite our vote, Republicans are acting as if the election didn’t occur. Why? Did they not hear us?

Political pundits have argued that, while they may have heard us, they don't need to pay attention to us yet. Latinos have played a decisive role in presidential election, but we don't have a big enough presence in Republican congressional districts to tip the balance of Congress in 2014.

They are wrong.

Latino voters could dethrone at least 11 of the 17 Republicans that Democrats need to defeat in order to regain control of the House of Representatives. Look at this chart: these are the 11 competitive races I’m talking about.

Although some members have a smaller proportion of voting-age Latinos in their districts, it’s significant in comparison to the margin of victory during the presidential election. The rest of the Republicans on this list not only have a substantial Latino voting age population in their districts, but they have already been classified as vulnerable by both parties.

And how have these Republicans voted on the priorities of Latino voters? All voted to shut down the government and defund Obamacare and all but two to defund President Obama's deferred action program.

All of these congressmen will spend thousands of dollars next year trying to trick Latinos into forgetting their voting record; many will even hire Latinos to come to our door to try to convince us that they care.

But none of these Republicans deserve our vote; in fact it’s insulting for them to ask us for it.

Republicans have failed to understand how damaging their strident opposition to Obamacare is for their efforts to attract Latino voters. Latinos have the highest uninsured rate of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. and rising healthcare costs are near the top of out list of critical issues, according to a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute.

Yes, the poll shows Latinos are divided on Obamacare, but six in ten believe that the government should guarantee healthcare for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes. And a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that 70 percent of Latinos oppose shutting down the federal government as a way to stop Obamacare from being implemented.

And do Republicans think that we’re not reminded every day that their party has blocked a bipartisan solution to fix our broken immigration system that would finally let millions of immigrants fully contribute to the country they consider home?

Republicans aren’t noticing that we are listening to them. And by ignoring us, they will keep losing until they give us the attention we deserve.

Gabriela Domenzain is a former journalist and Democratic strategist who has over a decade of experience in Hispanic civil-rights advocacy. She served as a national spokesperson on Hispanic issues for President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign and she is now a principal at the Raben Group.

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