Whether it's few or many, those voters who head to the polls are the ones who will determine the future of a community or nation, said Miguel Juarez, a former El Paso community activist, historian and librarian.
"We're at the beginning of a cultural transition in the nation," said Juarez, an archives specialist for the University of North Texas System in Denton. "Latinos in this elected defied the stereotypes that they are apathetic and uninformed. We also saw with the Dream Act immigrants not yet eligible to vote get involved in U.S. politics.
"More young people who supported Obama turned out for this election than in 2008. Things are happening that never happened before, and part of this stems from the younger generation that's coming of age and see things differently than the older generation."
Juarez visits El Paso frequently, and followed the local bond issue initiatives and baseball stadium proposal closely.
"The outcome of the bond issue and baseball stadium ballot measures shows that many El Pasoans want changes even if it results in new taxes," Juarez said.
El Paso also bucks the statewide trend of a state government which is dominated by the Republican Party. In a "red state," El Paso voters continue to vote straight-party Democrat, and elected this year to send an all-Democrat legislative delegation to Austin.
About 81 percent of El Pasoans are Hispanic, and while 57 percent of Texas voters chose Republican Mitt Romney for president, 65.5 percent of El Pasoans voted for Obama.
In a column published by Market Daily News and titled "America has Shifted to the Left and the Culture War is Over," writer Michael Snyder asserts that the United States has moved to the left of the political spectrum.
"The shift to the left is not just reflected in our presidential politics," Snyder said. "In fact, on election day 2012 it was most clearly seen in the results of some of the ballot initiatives and referendums held across the country. For example, prior to 2012, gay marriage had been voted down every single time when it had been put on the ballot in any state. However, on Election Day 2012 gay marriage was made legal by the voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state. This represented a huge victory for gay marriage advocates."
Dante Chinni, a fellow at American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in Washington, D.C., cautions against drawing dramatic conclusions from a single election.
"What is different and represents a change is the electorate," Chinni said. "In 2000, 81 percent of the voters were white. In 2012, the white vote was 72 percent. This 9 percent drop over a period of 12 years is substantial. What really surprised me this time is the turnout of the 18- to 29-year-old group -- there was an uptick of 2 points over the turnout in the 2008 election.
Chinni said the Hispanic vote will continue to grow, and Hispanics will become more active politically. He also said that cultural-political change tends to be gradual and incremental.
"We know from past polls that Americans had supported same-sex marriage for a while, and the fact that the ballot measures related to gay marriage passed reflect this view," Chinni said. "A colleague recently pointed that it took 50 years for approval of interracial marriage, and now we have gay marriage."
Finally, the experts agreed that whoever turns out to vote in the next presidential election in four years will depend again on who the candidates are as well as their platforms.
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