News Column

Election Front -- Voting with Anger

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American society today is unsettled amid
complicated, as well as beset by challenging
economic times.

How will the nation's perplexed mood play
out in the mid-term congressional elections
November 2nd?

"With millions unemployed, millions more underemployed,
a vicious recession in the recent past and a possible 'double dip,'
people are focused on the bread and butter of their lives," said
Larry Sabato, director of the UVA Center for Politics at the
University of Virginia. "Even if Democrats are blameless, they
are the party in power. Voting against them is a logical response
from weary, unhappy citizens who have run out of patience,"
Dr. Sabato told HispanicBusiness Magazine.

President Barack Obama hopes voters take a broad view to
the polls. "From day one, this administration has focused on
reversing nearly a decade's worth of failed economic policies that
helped cause the worst recession since the Great Depression,"
Luis Miranda said from the White House press office.

Disenfranchised Hispanics
With an unemployment rate of more than 12 percent (2.5 percent above the overall average) count Hispanics among the
nation's disenchanted. Still, how rebellious might the fastestgrowing
U.S. electoral bloc be against the Democratic Party
they supported in 2008?

Hortensia Gomez Ortiz in Phoenix, Ariz., thinks Hispanics
still favor Democrats, but many lack the enthusiasm to vote in
November. "President Obama told us he has a plan but that it
would not work overnight. He's not a magician," said Ortiz, who
is an offi cer with LULAC Council 1083 in North Phoenix.

Politically, the overarching battle to be resolved is control
of Congress. Democrats have controlled both chambers since
2007. What's at stake for income-starved Americans is when
will the economy decisively recover.

Election results will determine the "path to jobs in the future,"
said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. President Obama has
actively courted Labor. He asserts that restoring the economy is
his "most urgent task" even while conceding that getting people
back to work "will be diffi cult."

Increasingly scorned, Democrats assert that it will take more
than two years to recover from a disastrous course set by the
Bush administration from 2001-2008.

Republicans claim that Democrats are lost far out on the left field, and that they recklessly throw money at problems. "What
Republicans want to do is move forward and lower taxes, reduce
our deficit and create jobs," said Joanna Burgos, spokesperson
for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "They
want middle-class families to keep more of their hard-earned
money."

It's the same empty Republican rhetoric, suggests Vice
President Joe Biden. "They (voters) know the mess we inherited."
Th e administration proposes further tax cuts plus more loans
to small businesses to create jobs. It accuses Republicans of
opposing legislation simply to deny progress to Democrats.

Seats in Play
Little more than 70 House seats are considered competitive
by the non-partisan Cook Political Report. Reuters says 16
Senate races are competitive.

The Cook report predicts a net gain
for Republicans of 35 to 45 seats in the
House (the GOP needs a turnover of 39
to secure a majority). According to the
Cook report, the GOP will likely gain five
to seven seats, leaving them just shy of a
majority.

Republicans think reclaiming majorities
in both chambers is within reach. "We
feel optimistic because the American
people are fed up," said Bryan Preston,
spokesman for the Texas Republican Party.
"Anger with Washington plus a return of
conservative values will translate into a
watershed election in November."

One of the Senate seats eyed by
Republicans is in California, where
three-term incumbent Barbara Boxer
is challenged by former HP CEO Carly
Fiorina. Both say the election off ers a
clear choice. "Barbara Boxer is working
hard to create jobs and turn our economy
around," said Boxer Campaign Manager Rose Kapolcyznski.

Fiorina asserts the best way to spur job creation "is to get
government out of the way."

President Obama, in his appeals for support, points to the
millions of jobs created or saved by the 2009 economic stimulus
act, to major reforms on Wall Street and to health insurance
plus landmark clean energy legislation.

Immigration hot button
Immigration has become an emotional "ground zero" for
many Hispanics, National Council of La Raza President Janet
Murguia told The Washington Post. Immigration is linked not
only to lost jobs but increasingly to added strains on state
budgets. Most Americans support the tougher immigration
stands associated with the Republican platform. The GOP,
however, alienates many Hispanics with its support of measures
like the 1070 law in Arizona that leave citizens fearing abuse by
authorities.

Still, even among Hispanics, the 2010 political campaign
continues to be defined by the nation's struggling economy.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll in August found that nearly three quarters
of Americans were "very concerned" about unemployment. Sixty-two percent of those polled said the
country was moving in the wrong direction.

Dr. Sabato at the University of Virginia said this will be "a
classic, pocketbook-hurting, message-sending mid-term
election." Conservative voters, especially, are poised to lash out.
A Gallup poll in late August reported 46 percent of Republicans
were "very enthusiastic" about voting, compared to 23 percent
of the Democrats surveyed.

Hispanics might be in a position to influence results in key
races. A summer poll by the National Association of Latino
Elected and Appointed Offi cials (NALEO) reported that 61
percent of Hispanics surveyed said they "definitely" will vote
in the mid-term elections. Arturo Vargas, executive director of
the NALEO Educational Fund, described Hispanics as "riled,
restless and ready for November."

America's Voice, an immigration
reform advocacy group, says Hispanics
could have a significant impact on
the outcome of 40 mid-term races.
Hispanics, reports The Washington
Post, constitute at least a quarter of
the population in nearly one in five
congressional districts. In the California
Senate race, "The Latino community
stands to play a signifi cant role," said Ms.
Kapolcyznski of Sen. Boxer's campaign.

Organized Labor, too, renews its efforts
to influence election results. Labor
could play key roles in determining
winners in Senate races in California,
Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada
and Florida. In Nevada, low-key Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid fights for
re-election against Republican Sharon
Angle, who calls for elimination of the
Education Department and says Social
Security should be "transitioned out."

In Florida, Democrat Kendrick Meek
battles in a contest where much of the early attention was split
between Republican Marco Rubio and Republican-turned-
Independent Charlie Crist. Crist has won support from the
Florida Pipe Trades Council and Corrections USA. Meek is
supported by the much-larger AFL-CIO. Rubio is endorsed by
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which supports the GOP in
other states.

Educators eye the elections
Watching it all are people like U.S. history teacher Darlene
Martín in Española, NM. Public school administrators across the
country this summer were spared from making deeper cuts in
staffing than they feared would be necessary. Only a late infusion
of stimulus money minimized employment cuts this fall.

Federal stimulus money helped pay for 342,000 teacher jobs
in 2009-2010, according to Education Week. But that money
will dry up next year. President Obama, who called for the
2009 stimulus act, says he will not ask for another even while
pressing for smaller emergency fixes.

Whatever the outcome, one suspects that November will
mark an interesting election-one in which more than a few
voters cast their ballots in anger.

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