Charlotte, North Carolina.
The email came in the middle of…oh heck, I don’t know since the last two weeks have been a blur once I hit the road firstly to Tampa, Florida for the 2012 Republican National Convention, then Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention.
Special assignment: covering back to back conventions for the emerging Latino community and voting bloc with Latinos in Social Media (LATISM)–the largest non-profit and non-partisan organization using social media to improve the economic, social, and political status of Hispanics.
My audience is the furthest thing from “inside Beltway” DC types. But they really matter right now as the frenzied attention on the “Latino voter” months from a close election proves. I’m into empowering with information the community–the largest growing segment of our population–so that our dismal civic and political participation one day matches our demographic might and $1 trillion dollar spending power.
So when Cristina Costantini, national affairs correspondent at Univision News (which is partnering with ABC News and will soon launch a cable channel targeting U.S. Hispanics) reached out and asked me to hangear, I said jes.
¡K! ¡K! ¡K! Cristina, did not ask me to hangear. In fact, my Yale little sis’ (I found out she studied with my dissertation advisor whom I interviewed on the practice of Spanglish here) would never butcher the language of Cervantes.
Instead, she asked me to join her for a Google Hangout the night the President Obama formally accepted his re-nomination at the top of the Democratic ticket. Also Google hangeando: feminist blogger Verónica Arreola of Viva la Feminista, Aaron Rodriguez of The Hispanic Conservative, illegal immigrant student Ireri Unzeueta Carrasco, and Christian Ucles, a self-described marriage equality political operative.
“Latino voters react to Obama’s convention speech in Google Hangout” by Cristina Costantini appears in Univision News and was originally published on September 7th, 2012.
“Latino voters react to Obama’s convention speech in Google Hangout”
By: Cristina Costantini
In his Thursday address to the Democratic National Convention, President Obama said that voters will have to choose between “two different paths for America” and “two fundamentally different visions for the future.” The path the nation chooses in November may in large part be determined by Hispanic voters.
Last night, we were joined by a diverse group of Latinos, all of whom have been watching the election closely, to discuss the president’s speech in real time in an ABC News/Yahoo! News Google+ Hangout.
At the beginning of the week, Romney experienced a small convention bounce with Latino voters, according to a Latino Decisions/impreMedia tracking poll. Before the Republican National Convention, President Obama led Romney by 65-26 percent with Latino voters. Afterwards, he led Romney by a 64-30 percent margin. Democrats hoped that the convention would gain back any lost ground, and galvanize eligible Latino voters.
The Latinos we spoke with during the president’s speech said that education, foreign policy, and the economy were at the top of their lists for issues they wanted to hear the president address, but that immigration was still the most emotional issue for most Latino voters.
Even Aaron Rodriguez, a self-described “conservative Hispanic” from Wisconsin, said like many conservative Latinos, he strays from the Republican party when it comes to immigration.
“I typically think the Republican party has lost it’s way a little bit when it comes to immigrant issues,” Rodriguez said.
During the speech, we were joined by Ireri Unzeueta Carrasco, an undocumented student who has lived in the U.S. for 18 years who says she appreciated the president’s nod to undocumented youth, but that it isn’t enough. Although the president alluded to his deferred action policy–a temporary measure that will allow some undocumented youth who came to the U.S. at a young age to stay in the country–he’s still got quite a bit of work to do on the issue, Carrasco said.
“I think he may be mentioning young undocumented people, but he isn’t saying anything about the fact that there are still a whole lot of deportations going on,” Carrasco noted, alluding to the fact that Obama deported more immigrants than any president before him. “It’s good that he’s mentioning it, but it’s not nearly enough.”
Viviana Hurtado, a blogger who attended both conventions and runs a site called The Wise Latina Club, says she’s been struck by how vocal the president and fellow Democrats have been about “loving Latinos,” in their speeches. But, she says, there is a “disconnect” between what the DNC wants to portray when it comes to Latino outreach, and how they deal with issues that affect Latinos on the ground, like small business questions and voter surpression.
“I don’t see it permeating through all aspects of the [DNC] culture,” she said. “For example, no Latinos were included in a voter surpression I attended. How could you talk about this and not how it’s affecting Latinos in Texas and Florida?” Hurtado asked.
Hurtado also pointed out that Obama’s deferred action relief also came after years of pressure from the Latino community, and that many remain cynical about his recent efforts.
Christian Ucles, a Republican-turned-Democrat and naturalized U.S. citizen from Honduras, said he was glad to hear the president say something specific about foreign policy after Republicans largely avoided such issues at their convention.
“This is exactly the conversation we need to have,” Ucles said. “It’s hitting the hard notes we need to to talk about.”
On the other hand, Verónica Arreola, a feminist blogger at “Viva la Feminista,” expressed some frustration that there wasn’t any substantive policy talk when it came to education and immigration in the president’s speech.
“I’m not looking for perfection as much as just a little deeper conversation. Maybe that’s too much to ask from a national speech,” she said.
To read and see more of Viviana’s 2012 Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention coverage, click here.