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N2K Presidential Race: Warning Signs for Obama with Minority Voters N2K Presidential Race: Warning Signs for Obama with Minority Voters

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N2K Presidential Race

N2K Presidential Race: Warning Signs for Obama with Minority Voters


Hispanic voters leave a polling place after voting in San Antonio, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

President Obama didn’t endorse Rep. Charles Rangel's reelection bid, but the embattled congressman’s primary victory against an upstart Hispanic challenger last night offers a few cautionary signs for the president’s reelection game plan.

The ethically-embattled Rangel was running in a newly-drawn district where 55 percent of voters are Hispanic, but an early look at the returns suggests that Latinos didn’t turn out in large enough numbers to give his opponent, Adriano Espaillat, enough of a boost.

That pattern of lagging Hispanic turnout has repeated itself throughout the primary calendar, even when the stakes are high. In California, one of the Democratic Party’s brightest recruits (who’s Hispanic) didn’t even make it on the November ballot because Hispanic voters didn’t show up at the polls to support him in the primary. The incumbent in the race, Rep. Gary Miller, is one of the leading voices against illegal immigration in Congress, recently sponsoring legislation that would end birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S.  In Texas, redistricters drew nine majority-Hispanic congressional districts, thanks to the booming Latino population, but it looks like the state will only elect six Hispanic members of Congress in 2013.

Of course, turnout is likely to increase markedly during the November general election; minority turnout generally tends to be particularly low in primaries.  At the same time, there was a lot on the line in these races -- a chance to expand one’s ranks in Congress and send a clear message on immigration. 

President Obama is counting on his newly lenient immigration policies as the impetus for mobilizing and registering Hispanic voters. It’s definitely possible, but the primary results suggest it’s a lot easier said than done.

--Josh Kraushaar
Hotline Executive Editor


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