Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Census Results Should Prod Democrats Into Action

The results of the 2010 Census are out, and things don't bode well for the Democrats. In Sabrina Tavernise and Jeff Zeleny's article in the New York Times, it is clear that that there were gains in the South and West, areas that contained states that President Obama squeaked by in 2008, and states in which he will have difficulty winning in any case.

Texas gained 4 seats while New York and Ohio lost two, respectively.

The Census draws the map for redistricting the vote. In other words, the number of members of the house are determined by the Census and the state legislatures, which became redder than ever after the recent election, draw the districts from which representatives are elected.

Florida, the original recount battleground in 2000 where Al Gore won the popular vote yet lost to George W. Bush as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore, gained two seats. President Obama squeaked by in 2008. The Republicans have made it clear that their main goal for the next two years is obstructionist; that is, they don't care about passing legislation, they care about making President Obama a one-term president.

Although the population increase in the South and West cut inroads into 2008 battleground states, a great deal of the population growth was Hispanic. If the Democrats want to take advantage of that growth, they have to strategize better than they have in the past and appeal emotionally to potential voters. They have to address the immediate concerns of Hispanic voters. The Democrats are generally on the defensive fighting off Republican accusations. Instead, they have to go on the offensive.

I worked as a volunteer tutor in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Many of my students were Hispanic mothers (their children were often in the classroom also). They wanted the same things as any other family: a good education for their children, a step on the ladder of the American dream:

[T]he influence of Hispanic voters, particularly across Arizona, Nevada and Texas...underscores the urgency facing both parties in find new ways to appeal to Hispanics. In future presidential races, Democrats believ they can make inroads into Arizona and Texas, which are traditionally carried by Republicans, particularly if voters speak out against Arizona's tough immigration law.

I lay odds that Republicans will push Democratic buttons before the 2012 election. The Democrats have to show some spine and go on the offensive. Otherwise, they'll miss their opportunity.

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