The 2012 Presidential Election

he people have voted and the incumbent president was once again chosen to be our chief executive for four more years. Barack Obama’s reelection comes with a string of ripple effects that will transform the way U.S. presidential campaigns are run. Mitt Romney will forever go down as the presidential candidate to have captured the least amount of Latino vote. Obama counted with a 40-point lead within this demographic, greatly due to the latest efforts he made toward the benefit of immigrants. Romney only received 27% of the Hispanic vote, which is nothing compared to the 35% President George W. Bush got in 2000 or the 40% he got in 2004, nor was it even close to the 31% that Senator John McCain got in his 2008 bid for the presidency.

This goes to show that although immigration was not the top issue on the minds of Hispanics, it was definitely up there as one of the most important issues. Of course, they—like everyone else—found the economy, taxes, employment, the budget, and education to be some of the most important topics, yet it was the mixture of contempt and snarky remarks that labeled them as “illegal aliens” along with the disinterested tone with which Romney referred to Hispanics that turned them off. He clearly thought he could win without their vote, constantly stressing and painting a picture of an economy in shambles desperately needing to be rescued, thinking that his business background would be enough to get him elected, but that proved to be wrong. In the year 2000 Latinos made up 6% of the total electorate, in 2004 it was 7% and in 2008 that figure increased to 9% just shy of the 10% of where it was in this election. Specialists forecast that the percentage of Latino voters will reach 25% over the next decade. This election made Latinos a firm presence in the electorate, especially in swing states such as Florida, Colorado and Nevada. It also helped them garner more seats in Congress, with there now being 28 members of the House that are Latino and 3 in the Senate.

It is interesting to note that 65% of Americans polled as they finished voting said that “illegal immigrants working in the United States should be offered a chance for legal status” and only 28% said they should be deported. This speaks volumes of the sympathetic mindset Americans have toward immigrants and undermines the rhetoric that circulates amongst certain politicians that adhere to the “self-deportation” tactic. During the Republican primary, Mitt Romney first uttered what seemed to be a novel method of dealing with our immigration problem, which is really the same as the “attrition through enforcement” philosophy long espoused by anti-immigrant leaders. The moment he gained the Republican nomination, however, he quickly started to tone down his abrasive language and soon thereafter began to disassociate himself from it altogether. But Americans, and most notably immigrants, were not fooled that quickly because you can’t just say one thing one day and then change the tune when it’s no longer convenient. It quickly became very evident that the game he was playing would only lead him to be characterized as a shady and flaky candidate, and that’s exactly what happened, with an intrinsic feeling of distrust sweeping vast amounts of the immigrant population.

On Tuesday’s election, it became clear that no matter the efforts made by Romney to try to mend his relationship with Hispanics, the damage had been done, leaving them with an unsavory feeling for Romney. His alienating the Latino demographic was undoubtedly a major reason for his wide defeat. Latinos made up 10% of the electorate in this election and Obama outperformed Romney 71% to 27%. This election was a historic one for Hispanics since they made up an all-time high proportion of voters. From now on, the political game will never again be played without taking into consideration all Latinos and Hispanics living in the United States, because, as we saw, they can make or break an election campaign. With Latinos being the fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation, it will become harder and harder to win the national elections without capturing a significant portion of their vote. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Republican party will start embracing this fact and moderating their views and stop spewing so much hatred toward them. If this election has taught future Republican candidates anything it is that they cannot win if they are to take such an extreme rightwing stance, in order for them to stand a chance they need to move to the center and include Latinos and Hispanics in their agenda—because they are and will continue to be a firm presence in this country.

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