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In the media frenzy over the Latino vote and the candidates’ recent speeches before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and National Council of La Raza, scant attention has been paid to Barack Obama’s increasing levels of outreach to other ethnic groups, notably Asian-Americans.
In June, Obama’s Indonesian-American sister Maya Soetoro-Ng appeared at a fundraiser targeting Asian voters in California, where she described Obama’s youth in Indonesia and Hawaii (a state where 56% of the population is Asian-American) in an effort to highlight his close ties to their community. Earlier, Soetoro-Ng’s Chinese-Canadian husband Konrad Ng told the New York-based Chinese newspaper World Journal that Obama was deeply influenced by Asian cultural values as a result of his upbringing. This appeal to Asian-Americans will likely increase as Soetoro-Ng continues to campaign more aggressively in the fall and as the campaign makes a more deliberate effort to engage ethnic media to reach voters.
The renewed emphasis on Asian Americans is part of Obama’s evolution in branding from a “post-racial” candidate at the start of the election cycle- remember his “swift and unequivocal” dismissal of race in November 2006—to that of a multiracial candidate who embraces his multicultural identity. Soetero-Ng acknowledged in an Associated Press interview that during the primary season,“the idea was to downplay to some degree race and ethnicity.” But the national maelstrom created by Rev. Wright’s comments and the burgeoning importance of Latino voters lessens the possibility of the campaign doing so now. (more…)
At least 9.2 million Latinos are expected to vote in November’s presidential election according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. If the estimate is correct, it would represent an increase of more than one million Latino voters compared to the 2004 election.
The number is considered “merely a floor” rather than a ceiling by NALEO, which issued the 64-page report on the potential impact of Latinos in this election cycle. If Latino voter turnout in this year’s primaries is an indicator, the report says the Latino vote could spike even higher in the general election and represent a record percentage of the overall vote in key battleground states. “Changing demographics and rising political participation in the Latino community are redefining the American political landscape,” Senators Ken Salazar and Robert Menendez wrote in the report. “More than any time in the history of our great country, Latino voices and Latino voters will be at the center of the 2008 election, helping to determine the direction our country takes at this critical juncture.”
Primaries Demonstrated Power of Latino Vote
Latinos have already proved they are a formidable voting block, providing the margin of victory for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Texas and Ohio Democratic primaries and for Sen. John McCain in his decisive win in the Florida GOP primary, according to the NALEO report. The modified primary calendar provided ethnic minorities with more of a say in the presidential nominating process. Seventy-nine percent of the nation’s Latinos live in states that held primaries or caucuses on or before March 4th.
Democrats appeared to benefit the most from the turnout. “Latino Democratic turnout in some major states with large Latino populations doubled, tripled and even quintupled between 2004 and 2008,” the NALEO report found. Latino turnout may be a key to victory for Democrats in the general election, since at least five of the fourteen swing states that the Party hopes to turn blue have sizeable Latino populations.
Florida Remains the State to Watch
Not surprisingly, NALEO points to Florida as the state to watch in the 2008 election. Though Florida’s Latino population has historically trended Republican, an influx of Latinos from South and Central America, as well as Puerto Ricans in Central Florida, have created a sizeable electorate that could vote Democratic. Latinos who are registered Democratic in the state outnumber Latino registered Republicans by 35.3 percent to 33.5 percent. A third of registered of Latinos are unaffiliated and may be up for grabs by both parties. NALEO projects that more than one million Latino voters in Florida will cast their ballot in November’s presidential election.
Latino Turnout Could Be Even Higher
Nationwide more than 17 million Latinos are eligible to vote. One factor that could push the number higher is the swelling ranks of Latinos naturalized as US citizens. The overall number of naturalization applications doubled from 2006 to 2007 to 1.4 million applicants according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Due to a backlog in processing applications, however, the government agency estimates that will finish processing only 80 percent of the applications filed in 2007 in time for the election. Historically, turnout by naturalized Latinos is higher than those who are native born, according to the Census Bureau.
The immigration debate has also galvanized the Latino electorate, according to the NALEO report. “The last two years have seen the mass mobilization of Latinos in reaction to our nation’s widely publicized immigration debate,” the report says. “The intense current debate has already affected Latino naturalizations, and many Latino applicants for citizenship are motivated in part by the desire to make their voices heard.” However, the report concluded that it is unclear how much of the political reaction to the debate would translate into Latino turnout in the election.
From the Society of Profesional Journalists:
Indianapolis — The Society of Professional Journalists announced today the recipients of its New America Award. First-place recipients are Karen Frillmann from WNYC, New York Public Radio and Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska of the Polish Daily News for the series, “Polish Immigrants in a Changing City.” No other places were awarded in the contest.
This is the fourth year for the award, which honors public service journalism collaborations that include ethnic media in order to explore and expose an issue of importance to immigrant or ethnic communities in the United States. The award will be presented at the society’s annual Sigma Delta Chi Awards banquet July 11 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The winning work was a two-part series about New York’s Polish immigrant community produced for WNYC, New York Public Radio by Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, a reporter for the Polish Daily News. The first part of the series, “Feet in Two Worlds: Greenpoint, Brooklyn,” examined the impact of gentrification on the residents of a Brooklyn neighborhood that is the hub of New York’s Polish Community. Through the piece, broadcast on May 23, 2007, Kern-Jedrychowska was able to bring a fresh perspective on the story of old-age neighborhood transformation to public radio listeners.
Read more about Ewa’s win here:
Despite Senator Barack Obama’s recent string of primary and caucus victories there is deep unease about his candidacy in some immigrant communities. Obama’s positions on Pakistan, Iraq, and the Middle East could cost him votes and campaign contributions from Russian and Pakistani immigrants.
Two journalists, Ari Kagan, senior editor of the Russian newspaper Vecherniy New York and Jehangir Khattak a writer for Pakistan News and Defence Journal, discuss the challenges facing the Democratic senator from Illinois in his presidential campaign.
Kagan and Khattak also talk about Senator Hillary Clinton’s support among Pakistani and Russian immigrants, and why, if she fails to win the Democratic nomination, some of that support will go to Republican Senator John McCain, rather than Barack Obama.[audio:http://www.xrew.com/joceimgs/FI2W/fi2w_kagan_khattak_0215.mp3]
America on Road to Verdict – A Split One
(This article was originally written for Defence Journal)
By Jehangir Khattak
Pakistan has frequently been mentioned by almost all the candidates from both sides of the political divide. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s name has never been mentioned in a manner that would make most Pakistanis proud. The candidates cite the example of Pakistan while discussing the rising threat of religious extremism in different parts of the world. The candidates’ strong rhetoric in their plans to “deal” with Pakistan has attracted at times pretty strong reaction from Pakistan’s Foreign Office. While politicians like Mike Huckabee lack international vision, their foreign policy outlook remains a guessing game. And whenever they spoke on international issues, those were nothing short of gaffes.
The assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, on December 27, 2007, was the first major incident that evoked response from all the presidential candidates. The candidates’ varying responses exposed their command on foreign policy. So striking were these responses that top American dailies like The Washington Post wrote a special editorial on them under the caption “The Pakistan Test.” These reactions not only demonstrated the candidates’ understanding or otherwise of international issues, but also their ability to handle them. The astonishingly naïve reaction came from none else but Mike Huckabee who wanted a crackdown on illegal immigrants from Pakistan in the United States following BB’s assassination. His unimaginative approach did not end here. He, in the course of his comments, tried to make his audience believe that Pakistan is still under martial law.
Equally disappointing was Senator Barak Obama who has so far treaded a tough line on Pakistan. Obama has time and again expressed his resolve to hit terrorist targets, if any, on Pakistani soil without seeking Islamabad’s permission. Obama’s somewhat unilateralist approach towards Pakistan is in virtual contrast to his international outlook which advocates more inclusiveness and greater openness. Unlike the current Republican administration’s policy of not negotiating with its foes, Obama is promising talks with countries like Iran. In Pakistan’s case, Obama, who is promising change in Washington, is propagating something that would maintain status quo in the American line of thinking. Former Director George Tenet, in his latest book At the Center of the Storm, best explains this thinking. He says, “…we must not fall prey to typical American impatience and rush into ‘solutions’ that only make matters worse.” The Illinois Senator’s assertions on Pakistan have disappointed and even antagonized many of his Pakistani-American admirers.