Shifty Latino Vote
October 8, 2002
By Mariana Reyes Anglero
During the 2001 municipal elections, 47 percent of Hispanic New
Yorkers voted for the Republican Michael Bloomberg. The election
was unprecedented in a city where the majority of Hispanics are
According to the study "The Latino Electorate," prepared
by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington D.C., the Hispanic electorate
is emerging as a unique presence in the countrys political
panorama. Center director Roberto Suro said that the studys
findings demonstrate "political party ambivalence" on
the part of Hispanics.
Lorraine Cortés, president of the Hispanic Federation, debated
this conclusion, saying that Hispanic voting tendencies do not demonstrate
ambivalence, but instead show that Hispanics "support those
candidates that involve themselves in issues that affect their communities."
The heterogeneity of Hispanic political criteria is a challenge
for politicians who try to win the Hispanic vote. New York Governor
George Pataki, a Republican, is wrapping up an intense campaign
to gain the Hispanic vote, and has already gained the backing of
Dennis Rivera, leader of the traditionally Democratic union 1199.
Mike McKeon, spokesperson for the Pataki campaign, said that "the
Latino voters know Governor Pataki and they trust him. We are sure
that Hispanic voters know that Governor Pataki respects them."
According to Suro, "When there are fierce party divides in
the country, Latinos arent ideologically compromised to support
any one party." According to the study by Suros organization,
49 percent of Hispanic voters are registered Democrats, 20 percent
are registered Republicans, and 19 percent are independent.
The national study also indicates that more than 40 percent of
Hispanics feel that there is very little or no difference between
the Democratic and Republican parties. Hispanics constitute 10 percent
of the countrys population and make up five percent of U.S.
The study revealed that the total number of Hispanic voters is
much lower than the number of Hispanics in the country due to various
factors: a large part of the Hispanic population is made up of young
people who are not yet old enough to vote, many Hispanics arent
U.S. citizens and few of the Latinos that are able to vote have
State Assemblyman José Riverawho is also president
of the Bronx Democratic part, said "We cannot forget that the
majority of Hispanics are Democrats because the party platform is
very different from the Republican platform." Rivera pointed
out that the power of the Latino vote has obliged candidates from
both parties to focus on the issues that are most important to the
"Hispanic voters are becoming more and more immersed in the
electoral process, and are crucial to elections," said candidate
for New York Governor Carl McCall. "I am paying close attention
to the issues that affect the Hispanic community, such as education,
housing and health care," added the Democrat.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Hispanic political preferences
cannot be categorized in the same way as the African American or
white vote, because Hispanics break with the classic guiding reasons
that liberals or conservatives support one party or the other.
Professor Ángel López, from the Department of Latin
American and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, replied, "Many
people presume that Latinos are a conglomerated mass. This is not
necessarily true, and studies have shown that this is a myth that
many Latin Americans have come to believe."
Translated from Spanish by Jonathan Charnay
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