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Where Do I Vote?

BY MARY MANCINI
In the 2004 presidential, 10% of people who didn’t vote claim that they didn’t because they didn’t know where to go. To help alleviate that problem, The Google has created a tool that makes it easy to find out where exactly where you polling place is located.

Go to maps.google.com/vote and enter your home address and experience the Google magic.

 

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November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DO NOT FILL OUT A PROVISIONAL BALLOT

If your vote is challenged!! In 2004 the Republicans challenged a ridiculous number of voters. The voters were then told by a sweet little lady at a table that their “provisional ballot” would be counted, BUT IT WON’T… DEMAND that poll judges make the judgment ON THE SPOT. Demand a call to the supervisor of elections. If you have to, go home and come back with a better form of ID. If you need help, call ELECTION PROTECTION at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. And help those around you when you’re at the polling place. Look for people having trouble. Call the number for them. Tell them not to fill out a provisional ballot!

In this clip from Uncounted, Ohio citizen Bobby Jackson, who was forced to vote provisionally in 2004, sends out a heartfelt plea for participatory democracy – despite his vote not counting. “I guess I’ll vote next time too,” he says, “’cause people fought and died for my right to vote…and I know that…”

Please help spread this clip and its message, along with with Mr. Kennedy’s and Mr. Palast’s timely and specific instructions, and help, in the words of Mr. Jackson, “make it right…”

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop, Drop, and Poll – What to Do if You Have Problems Voting

BY MARY MANCINI

Anecdotal evidence is coming in fast and furious of early-voting incidences including voting machine malfunctions in Ohio,Putnam, and Jackson Counties in West Virginia andDavidson and Decatur Counties in Tennessee, as well as hidden problems with “straight ticket” voting (confirmed bySnopes) in Texas and West Virginia. A more complete list of the problems so far can be found at VotersUnite.org.

It CAN happen to you. If it does, here are a few suggestions on what to do:

1) Video Your Vote
If possible, plan ahead for any problems by bringing a video camera with you to Video the Vote. Then, spread it around (send it to us and we’ll help). Remember, the focus should be on gathering evidence and not telling stories. So, use video, audio, photographs to document what happened. Also, get names and phone numbers of witnesses, voting machine serial numbers, names of poll workers, and document the time of day.

2) At the First Sign of a Problem, Stop*
At the first sign of a problem with your machine (or if you experience any of the other problems listed below), stop what you are doing and ask to speak to thesupervisor/officer of elections (skip the poll worker) at your polling location. Explain your problem. If they try and waive you off, call your main election commission number and ask to speak to the election commissioner who will satisfactorily address your problem. Keep in mind that many poll workers/supervisors will try and blame the voter aka “operator error.” Do not leave your polling place until your problem is well-documented and addressed to your complete satisfaction and, if the problem is with a machine, that machine is quarantined. Oh, and you get to vote. Never leave the polling place without voting.

3) File a Report. File Several Reports.
Your local polling place will have incident reports available to you. If they do not, call the main election commission for your county and ask for someone to bring one to you. Make sure that both you and the supervisor sign it. An example of a report is here (Hat tip:Wake Up and Save Your Country Voters Guide). The U.S. Election Assistance Commission also lists on their website where you can find out how to file a report in your state. Again, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote can also help with any questions in this area.

4) Call the Election Protection Hotline
Report you incident to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-Our-Vote, especially if you feel you are being bullied or your incident is not being taken seriously. The ACLU has a hotline as well at 1-877-523-2792. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Greg Palast offer suggestions as well in their comicStealYourVoteBack.org.

5) Pledge to Stand Up to Stolen Elections
Go to NoMoreStolenElections.org and pledge to not concede until every vote is counted – and counted as cast.

*Problems can include: machine problems, polling place problems (machines not set up on time), switching or closing of polling place, voters forced to vote on a provisional ballot, long lines/waits, intimidation, unusual ID demands, poll workers asking inappropriate questions, etc.

UPDATE: One of TrueVote.Us’s members has a great suggestion to add to this list: “Voters who see their vote being flipped by the machines on election day, if they can’t get the machine taken out of service, they should immediately begin telling all the voters still waiting in line exactly which machine flipped their votes. (Third machine from the left, or whatever.) Try to get people…to refuse that machine. This could cause trouble, backups, and increase the pressure on the local officials to mothball that machine. No doubt people are already complaining both to the officials and to election activists and lawyers waiting outside – but the other voters waiting in line also need to know. [I took out a bit of this that was very partisan because we believe that fair and honest elections are no-partisan and non-ideological. – Ed.]

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Ways to Steal Back the Election

 

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr and Greg Palast also add seven ways to steal back the election in another collaboration – a full color downloadable comic called, “Steal Back Your Vote.” This one’s a how-to guide:

STEP 1: DON’T DON’T DON’T mail in your ballot!! Absentee ballots are often not counted for the weakest of reasons. Furthermore, there are new rules in many states that you must photocopy your ID and send it with the ballot. However, they often don’t even tell you that. So hundreds of thousands of absentee votes will not be counted for this reason.

STEP 2: VOTE EARLY …VERY EARLY! Many states are already allowing you to vote. Do it NOW. That way if you’re not listed on the voter roles, you have plenty of time to get your complaint heard.

STEP 3: REGISTER AND THEN REGISTER AND THEN REGISTER! There is a TON of purging of voter rolls going on. It’s not enough to think you’re registered. Double check twelve times. You can check online at http://www.votersunite.org. Once you’re done with that, go register. …Then go register. [For most states. the registration deadlines have passed. So CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION! at VotersUnite.org. Some states have a way to check online, others you will have to call. If you find you are no long on the rolls, go down to your election commission and sort it out in person.]

STEP 4: DO NOT FILL OUT A PROVISIONAL BALLOT if your vote is challenged!! In 2004 the Republicans challenged a ridiculous number of voters. The voters were then told by a sweet little lady at a table that their “provisional ballot” would be counted, BUT IT WON’T. Don’t listen to the little old lady!! DEMAND that poll judges make the judgment ON THE SPOT. Demand a call to the supervisor of elections. If you have to, go home and come back with a better form of ID. If you need help, call ELECTION PROTECTION at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. And help those around you when you’re at the polling place. Look for people having trouble. Call the number for them. Tell them not to fill out a provisional ballot!

STEP 5: STEP AWAY FROM YOUR COMPUTER! Walk out your front door and get active!! Volunteer to help with the campaign. Or ignore the campaign and do something on your own. It’s as simple as printing out these ELECTION PROTECTION steps and leaving them at people’s doors. Hell, you could hand them out outside the polling places. Don’t sit still or this election will be stolen. And go to a swing state if at all possible.

STEP 6: FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS VOTE WITHOUT FRIENDS! Don’t go to vote alone. Bring friends!! Lots of them or only one of them. Make it a date. Arrange to have lunch with everyone after you vote. Whatever it takes. And have your election protection phone number WITH YOU (1-866-OUR-VOTE).

STEP 7: IT AIN’T OVER ‘TILL IT’S OVER! If the election is indeed stolen, don’t throw in the towel! The day after is CRUCIAL! Three words need to be chanted over and over again: COUNT EVERY VOTE. For example, in 2000 Al Gore lost because of a Supreme Court decision that was 5-4 against him. Imagine if he had won that court decision. But if half of America had not chanted COUNT EVERY VOTE after election day, we would never have gotten to the Supreme Court. Half of America could’ve thrown in the towel on election night, but thanks to people in the streets, it was fought to the end.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Steal Back Your Vote

BY MARY MANCINI

In June 2006, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., wrote “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” for Rolling Stone, and followed it up in September 2006 with, “Will The Next Election Be Hacked?.” He’s back, this time with investigative journalist Greg Palast (author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy), with another chapter in his bid to save our democracy, “Block the Vote (Will the GOP’s campaign to deter new voters and discard Democratic ballots determine the next president?).Here are the highlights:

“On Super Tuesday [2008], one in nine Democrats who tried to cast ballots in New Mexico found their names missing from the registration lists…[In] Las Vegas…nearly 20 percent of the county’s voters were absent from the rolls…In state after state, Republican operatives…are wielding new federal legislation to systematically disenfranchise Democrats….”All these new rules and games are turning voting into an obstacle course that could flip the vote to the GOP in half a dozen states.”…Paul Weyrich: “I don’t want everybody to vote. . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”…Republican election officials at the local and state level have used the rules to give GOP candidates an edge on Election Day by creating new barriers to registration, purging legitimate names from voter rolls, challenging voters at the polls and discarding valid ballots….To justify this battery of new voting impediments, Republicans cite an alleged upsurge in voting fraud….federal courts found only 24 voters guilty of fraud from 2002 to 2005, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast…The recently enacted barriers thrown up to deter voters include: 1. Obstructing Voter-Registration Drives… 2. Demanding “Perfect Matches”…3. Purging Legitimate Voters From the Rolls…4. Requiring Unnecessary Voter ID’s…5. Rejecting “Spoiled” Ballots…6. Challenging “Provisional” Ballots…Add up all the modern-day barriers to voting erected since the 2004 election…and what you have is millions of voters, more than enough to swing the presidential election, quietly being detached from the electorate by subterfuge….If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat John McCain at the polls — they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering.”

For those of you who think this an unfair attack on one political party, I ask you to read the article and think of the news you’ve been hearing the last couple of weeks. News aboutACORN (1. Obstructing Voter-Registration Drives?), the use of contested voter registration lists (2. Demanding “Perfect Matches), and voter roll purges (3. Purging Legitimate Voters From the Rolls). What makes you believe that stories about 4. Requiring Unnecessary Voter ID’s, 5. Rejecting “Spoiled” Ballots, and 6. Challenging “Provisional” Ballots aren’t just around the corner? As Kennedy and Palast remind us (and as you can see by watching Uncounted), we’ve already seen instances of these in 2004, 2006 and this year’s primaries.

It’s simple really – one of the few things that’s black and white in this very nuanced world. Voter registration and encouraging participation in the our country’s greatest tradition is good. Fighting hard to suppress this participation is very, very bad. If you’re still not buying it, then replace “Republican” with “Democrat” and vice versa, and reevaluate.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

White people shouldn’t be allowed to vote

It’s for the good of the country and for those who’re bitter for a reason and armed because they’re scared.

Jonathan Valaniais editor in chief of the blog Phawker.com

As a lifelong Caucasian, I am beginning to think the time has finally come to take the right to vote away from white people, at least until we come to our senses. Seriously, I just don’t think we can be trusted to exercise it responsibly anymore.

I give you Exhibit A: The last eight years.

In 2000, Bush-Cheney stole the election, got us attacked, and then got us into two no-exit wars. Four years later, white people reelected them. Is not the repetition of the same behavior over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome the very definition of insanity? (It is, I looked it up.)

Exhibit B is any given Sarah Palin rally.

Exhibit C would be Ed Rendell and John Murtha, who in separate moments of on-the-record candor they would come to regret, pointing out that there are plenty of people in Pennsylvania who just cannot bring themselves to pull the lever for a black man – no matter what they tell pollsters.

These people are ruining things for the rest of us white people who are ready to move on. Sure, they have their reasons, chimerical though they may be: He’s a Muslim. He’s a terrorist. He’s a Muslim terrorist. He’s going to fire all the white people and give their jobs to blacks.

But those are just the little white lies these people allow themselves to be told, a self-induced cognitive dissonance that lets them avoid saying the unsayable: I cannot pull the lever for a black man.

Hey, some people just aren’t ready yet, even the governor said so. Just like some people aren’t ready yet for computers or setting the clock on the VCR.

Or, to hear Murtha tell it, some people – specifically some people in Western Pennsylvania – will never be ready. But the fact is, if you did a statewide head count of racists, you’d find just as many in eastern Pennsylvania as you would in the western part of the state.

That’s why this ban on white people voting I’m proposing has got to be statewide. And I’m sorry to say, it’s going to have to include all white people, even those who would vote for Obama, because you can’t just let some white people vote. That would be unfair.

By this point, you either think I am joking or are calling me an elitist. I assure you I am neither. OK, maybe a little of both. But it wasn’t always like this. I come from the Coal Belt, from that Alabamian hinterland between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as per James Carville’s famous formulation.

I am, in fact, just two generations out of the coal mines that blackened the lungs of my grandfather, leaving him disabled, despondent and, finally, dead at the ripe old age of 54.

So, understand that I am saying all this for the good of the country and, in fact, for the good of those hard-working white people that Hillary used to pander to.

I know those people, I come from them. They are not some shameful abstract demographic to be brushed under the rug of euphemism by Wolf Blitzer and his ilk.

I have broken kielbasa with those people. I went to school with their children. I have gone to Sunday Mass with a deer-hunter hangover with those people. They are bitter with good reason, and they are armed because they are scared. They mean well, but they are easily spooked.

I fear for what is to become of them after the campaigns leave town for the last time, and Scranton and Allentown and Carlisle go back to being the long dark chicken dance of the national soul they were before the media showed up.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check Your Work

BY MARY MANCINI

Remember when your third grade teacher told you to “check your work?” Yeah, well, everything you need to know about verifying your vote you learned in 3rd grade.

In the following video, Jackson County, WV (where stories of voteflipping about this early voting season) County Clerk Jeff Waybright demonstrates that an uncalibrated – and supposedly calibrated – ES&S iVotronic voting machine will actually flip votes.

Votes flip so check your work and verify your vote. In the words of citizen Waybright, “You should never leave the voting booth without voting for who you wanted to vote for.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heading Off Election Day Mishaps

Most Pitfalls Have a Remedy, if Voters Are Prepared; Bringing Along Proper ID

By JUNE KRONHOLZ

Tomorrow is Election Day: The campaign is over, and it is time to cast your ballot at last. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. A poll worker may say you aren’t registered. Your voting machine could malfunction. Your meddling neighbor could say you aren’t eligible to vote. Or maybe you are offered a provisional ballot — and what is the difference between regular ballots, provisional ballots and emergency ballots, anyway?

There is a remedy for most of these problems, and a bit of advance preparation should ensure that they never come up. Here is a voter’s guide on what could go wrong at the polls and what to do about it:

  • You aren’t on the voter rolls. This could happen for several reasons, and the remedies are different for each.

The huge number of new voters has caused registration backlogs in some states, and the voter rolls may not show your name if you registered just before the deadline. That “has the potential to be a significant problem,” says Jonah Goldman of the nonpartisan Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

 

If that happens, you may have to file a provisional ballot. Elections judges open provisional ballots after Election Day and, on a case-by-case basis, decide which should be counted. Your voter-registration form will have been dated and time-stamped and will provide proof that you are eligible to vote.

Be sure you are in the right precinct and polling place. State laws differ — in some states, a provisional ballot cast in the wrong precinct will be counted; in others, it won’t. The Web site www.maps.google.com/vote can tell you where your voting location is and how to get there.

You also might not be on the voter rolls if you haven’t voted in several elections and have been moved to the inactive list. Make sure poll workers have checked all of their voter lists for your name. Inactive voters are entitled to cast regular ballots, which are counted on the night of the election and aren’t subject to the additional scrutiny of provisional ballots.

Elections offices also regularly purge their rolls to remove voters who have died, moved or been convicted of felonies. Federal law outlines when and how they can do that, however, and Colorado and Michigan recently were ordered by federal judges to reinstate voters who were unlawfully purged. If your name was removed from the rolls, you might have to file a provisional ballot.

  • You don’t have an ID. Only Georgia and Indiana require an identification with a current photo. Other states require some form of identification. And still others require an ID only of first-time voters who registered by mail. A map at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice Web site (www.brennancenter.org/content/section/category/voter_id) shows the ID requirements for each state.

Some states allow voters who don’t have the required ID documents to file provisional ballots. Don’t take a provisional ballot if you don’t have to: State laws differ on how and when provisional ballots are counted, and there is a chance that yours will be excluded.

If poll workers ask for an ID even if one isn’t required, you can appeal to the chief judge at your polling place or call the nonpartisan watchdog group Election Protection for guidance. Their number is 1-866-OUR-VOTE. Election Protection will operate 25 call centers, staffed by some 10,000 lawyers and other volunteers, and is expecting 100,000 calls on Election Day.

Probably the best solution to an ID problem, though, is to show your driver’s license, whether it is legally required or not. “There’s not a lot of time on Election Day to stand on principle,” says Mr. Goldman.

  • There are voting-equipment problems. There are different remedies for different problems.

Touch-screen voting machines may lose power or otherwise stop working. In that case, polling places will have emergency paper ballots on hand. An emergency ballot, unlike a provisional ballot, is counted on the night of the election and doesn’t undergo a review by election judges. Make sure your emergency ballot isn’t mingled with provisional ballots, or it might not get a timely count.

Votes may “flip” on an electronic voting system, showing that you cast your vote for Barack Obama, for example, even though you are sure you voted for John McCain. Flipping usually is caused by a calibration problem, says the Brennan Center — that is, the voting machine isn’t matching up the candidate’s name on the screen with his name on an internal program.

Summon a poll worker to fix the error, make sure your vote is registered properly on the summary page of the electronic ballot and then call Election Protection, which is tracking machine problems.

Many states will keep their registration lists on electronic poll books this year. In some trial tests and primaries, those have crashed or been too slow to be of any use. If that happens, there is no way poll workers can verify your registration data, and you will have to file a provisional ballot.

  • Your eligibility is challenged. The Republican Party has said it might challenge voters registered by activist groups like Acorn, whose field workers it has accused of signing up fictitious people, felons and others ineligible to vote. State laws vary widely about who can make challenges and under what conditions. In Ohio, only poll workers can challenge a voter; in Florida, any voter can challenge any other.

Be prepared for a challenge by bringing along proof of your age, identity and address. If those are in order and you are in the correct precinct, you must be offered a regular ballot. If they aren’t, you may have to vote by provisional ballot.

  • The lines are long. Tough luck.

A few jurisdictions require election workers to offer emergency ballots if lines are more than 45 minutes long. Everyone else can probably expect a long wait.

Voting hours vary by state, so check the Web site of your local elections board. Everyone in line at closing time will be allowed to vote, no matter how late the polls must stay open.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122567152289691823.html

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good News from Pennsylvania

BY MARY MANCINI

Pennsylvania does not have early voting and the turnout is expected to be heavy, so this good news from the Centre Daily Times is very welcome:

Pennsylvania election officials will make paper ballots available to voters if half the machines at a polling place break down, they said, declining to appeal a federal judge’s emergency order on Wednesday.

The state has previously required that paper ballots only be offered if all the machines break down, but several voter groups filed a lawsuit last week in which they said long lines at the polls could disenfranchise voters.

Congrats to John Bonifaz, legal director of Voter Action, who helped push this one through (along with the NAACP and others).

And you have to love a Judge who opines:

The distribution of paper ballots to voters when 50 percent of the machines are inoperable at a polling place is compelling to protect their constitutional right to vote, and no state interest has been advanced to reject it. Indeed, plaintiffs’ request for relief is reasonable and even modest in light of the grave injury they seek to prevent.

 

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Undervotes – The Scary Canary

 

In 2004 massive get-out-the-vote efforts created a huge turnout on Election Day, bringing more voters to the polls than ever before. But in key states (and The Keystone state), many voters showed up at the polls and waited in long lines for hours only to later discover the voting machines showed many of them had no vote recorded for any presidential candidate.

This particular scary canary in a coalmine is known as presidential “undervotes” – ballots cast without recording a choice for the highest office in the land.

In this clipUNCOUNTED focuses on instances of undervoting in two battleground states in 2004 – New Mexico and Pennsylvania. New Mexico had a particularly large problem, where presidential undervote rates of 25% were reported in Democratic-leaning Hispanic and American Indian precincts. New Mexico had the nation’s highest presidential undervote rate – 21,084. (George W. Bush won that state by less than 6,000 votes.)

2008 might have a lot things in common with 2004. Now we’ll know what to look for if undervotes are one of them.

http://uncountedthemovie.com/blog/

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Election Day 2000 (Learning from the Past So We Are Not Condemned to Repeat It)

BY MARY MANCINI

We’re getting close – early voting has already begun in some areas of the country and Election Day ‘08 is less than four weeks away (find your polling place). So with that in mind, here’s a clip from Uncounted – a little history from the year 2000 – to remind us why we need to keep our eyes and ears open this November 4…and beyond.

We’re still not ready for a close election…the media will rush to report the returns and will use talking points to conveniently explain unusual results…for some elected and appointed officials, ideology and partisanship trumps democracy and country…disenfranchisement is systemic and systematic…we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go to ensure that every vote is counted, and counted as cast.

 

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poll: Hispanics favor Obama

UTICA, N.Y. — As we enter the final stretch of the presidential elections, Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, appears to have solidified his support among the large majority of Hispanic likely voters.

In a news release, Zogby pollsters said:

Obama is favored by 72 percent of likely Hispanic voters while Republican candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona holds just 22 percent support, according to a new Zogby International telephone survey of Latinos nationwide.

Another 4.5 percent of Hispanic likely voters support other candidates while 2 percent remain undecided.

Zogby International’s telephone survey of 704 Hispanic/Latino likely voters nationwide was conducted Oct. 16 – 30, 2008, and carries a margin of error of +/-3.8 percentage points.

Obama has maintained his stronghold among Latinos since Zogby’s earlier nationwide telephone survey of Hispanic likely voters was released on Oct. 20. The earlier poll showed 70 percent of Hispanic respondents favored Obama while 21% supported McCain. Zogby’s first survey was conducted among 600 Hispanic/Latino likely voters on Oct. 3-17, 2008 and held a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points, the release said.

In the 2004 presidential elections, Latinos helped propel Republican George W. Bush to re-election when he secured 40% of the Hispanic vote. This year, with the increase in the Hispanic population and expanded voter registration efforts nationwide, the Latino vote could be a determining factor in all the battleground states.

In our latest survey, an estimated 58% of Hispanic likely voters identify themselves as Democrats and 19% call themselves Republicans, while another 23% percent consider themselves Independents.

Both presidential candidates continue to garner support among Latinos in their respective parties. McCain now enjoys 78% of Hispanic Republicans up by two percent while Obama’s support has increased to 92% from 83% in the earlier survey. 

Among Latino respondents who identify themselves as Independent voters, Obama maintains a majority of support. The Democratic candidate now enjoys 66% of support among these respondents, an increase of 6% from our previous survey. There has been a marked decrease for McCain – from 30% to 18% – among these swing voters. 

Each presidential candidate has strengthened his support within his traditional ideological base. Senator Obama now enjoys 89% support among liberals up 5 points while McCain’s support among conservatives has risen to 45% from 35% of Hispanic likely voters. Yet, Obama maintains much support – 47% – of Hispanic likely voters who consider themselves conservatives.

The large majority of moderates – 76% – continue to support Obama while 18% support McCain.

Catholic likely voters in the Hispanic community have increased their support for Obama to 78% from 72% in the past several days while McCain’s support has dropped by more than three points among this subgroup to 18%. Among Hispanic Protestants surveyed, Obama’s support remains at 60% and McCain’s support has increased by more than 5 points to 36%.

In recent years, there have been an increasing number of self-identified “born-again” or “evangelical” Christians in the Latino community nationwide. Although traditionally this subgroup identifies itself as conservative and is supportive of the Republican party, this year Hispanic “born-again” respondents are divided in their support for the two presidential hopefuls. 42% of respondents favor McCain while 53% support Obama.

Obama maintains a majority of support among all age groups surveyed. Among 18-24 year olds, 80% favor Obama while McCain supports remains at about 9%. Surprisingly, Third Party candidate Ralph Nader is now supported by 8% of this youth vote. In Zogby’s Oct. 20th poll, Nader had not even registered any support among these respondents. At the same time, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, who had enjoyed 4% of support among these younger Hispanic voters in our earlier survey, no longer maintains any support in this subgroup. McCain’s highest amount of support – 34% – is among the following age group, 55-69.

Obama has a majority of support in the Latino community among all income groups surveyed. The highest support for Obama – 77% – is among individuals who earn less than $25,000 while McCain’s strongest support is among individuals who earn more than $100,000. Within this high-income Hispanic subgroup, McCain has lost significant support from 44% to 28% since our last survey.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voters Across Nation Hit by Dirty Tricks

 

Rally in Seattle for Obama

Rally in Seattle for Obama

(Nov. 2) – In the hours before Election Day, as inevitable as winter, comes an onslaught of dirty tricks — confusing e-mails, disturbing phone calls and insinuating fliers left on doorsteps during the night.
The intent, almost always, is to keep folks from voting or to confuse them, usually through intimidation or misinformation. But in this presidential race, in which a black man leads most polls, some of the deceit has a decidedly racist bent.
Complaints have surfaced in predominantly African-American neighborhoods of Philadelphia where fliers have circulated, warning voters they could be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets or if they had criminal convictions.
Over the weekend in Virginia, bogus fliers with an authentic-looking commonwealth seal said fears of high voter turnout had prompted election officials to hold two elections — one on Tuesday for Republicans and another on Wednesday for Democrats.
In New Mexico, two Hispanic women filed a lawsuit last week claiming they were harassed by a private investigator working for a Republican lawyer who came to their homes and threatened to call immigration authorities, even though they are U.S. citizens.
“He was questioning her status, saying that he needed to see her papers and documents to show that she was a U.S. citizen and was a legitimate voter,” said Guadalupe Bojorquez, speaking on behalf of her mother, Dora Escobedo, a 67-year-old Albuquerque resident who speaks only Spanish. “He totally, totally scared the heck out of her.”
In Pennsylvania, e-mails appeared linking Democrat Barack Obama to the Holocaust. “Jewish Americans cannot afford to make the wrong decision on Tuesday, Nov. 4,” said the electronic message, paid for by an entity calling itself the Republican Federal Committee. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake.”
Laughlin McDonald, who leads the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said he has never seen “an election where there was more interest and more voter turnout, and more efforts to suppress registration and turnout. And that has a real impact on minorities.”

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Could Obama be the first Asian American president?

“White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime. After all, he displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

With these words in the New Yorker in 1998, Toni Morrison granted our 42nd president, William Jefferson Clinton, a kind of cadet membership in the grand cultural narrative of black America. While her intent was never to make him out as a role model, her essay nevertheless reflected how implausible, how impossibly distant the idea of an African American occupant in the Oval Office seemed at the time.

Morrison couldn’t have known that, exactly a decade later, her assertion would be given the lie: We now face the very real prospect in Barack Obama of an “actual black person” being elected president — though one whose own cultural narrative is so unique and complicated that some would argue it has as many contrasts as commonalities with that of the average black American.

In fact, reading Obama’s absorbing 1995 memoir “Dreams from My Father,” it strikes me that the tropes that surround and define Obama can just as easily be read as those of another community entirely. Which raises the question: Could it be that our true first black president might also be our first Asian American president?

Fitting the curve

He was born and raised in Hawaii, the only majority-Asian state in the union; he spent four formative years in Jakarta, the home of his Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro, where he attended local schools and learned passable Bahasa Indonesia. The family with whom he’s closest — half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and her Chinese Canadian husband, Konrad Ng — are Asian American. So, too, are the most senior members of his congressional team — his Senate chief of staff Pete Rouse, whose mother is Japanese American, and his legislative director Chris Lu, whose parents hail from China.

Evidence for Obama’s affinity with the Asian American experience runs true even as one delves deeper into his history. “A lot of aspects of the senator’s story will be recognizable to many Asian Americans,” says Lu, a Harvard Law School classmate of the senator’s who joined the team in 2005. “He talks about feeling like somewhat of an outsider; about coming to terms with his self-identity; about figuring out how to reconcile the values from his unique heritage with those of larger U.S. society. These are tensions and conflicts that play out in the lives of all children of immigrants.”

And how he talks about those tensions could be rote recital from the Asian American literary canon. With minor search-and-replace, much of the first half of “Dreams” could have been excerpted from an Asian American coming-of-age work, like Gus Lee’s“China Boy,” Gene Yang’s “American Born Chinese,” or Michael Kang’s “The Motel.”

For instance, Obama recalls how, on his first day at school in Hawaii, his well-intentioned teacher made a point of complimenting him on his beautiful, alien name, waxing on about the fantastical magnificence of Kenya, and asking “what tribe” his father was from — thereby condemning young Barack (classmate: “I thought your name was Barry!”) to the status of outsider, foreigner, weirdo.

“I heard titters break across the room,” writes Obama. “I spent the rest of the day in a daze … The novelty of having me in the class quickly wore off for the other kids, although my sense that I didn’t belong continued to grow … Most of my classmates had been together since kindergarten; they lived in the same neighborhoods, in split-level homes with swimming pools; their fathers coached the same Little League teams; their mothers sponsored the bake sales. Nobody played soccer or badminton or chess, and I had no idea how to throw a football in a spiral or balance on a skateboard.”

And he talks about how, as he grew older, he began to realize that his pervasive sense of difference extended beyond the mere purgatory of elementary school. “TV, movies, the radio … Pop culture was color-coded, after all,” he writes. “I began to notice that Cosby never got the girl on ‘I Spy,’ that the black man on ‘Mission: Impossible’ spent all his time underground. I noticed that there was nobody like me in the Sears, Roebuck Christmas catalog … and that Santa was a white man.”

By the time Obama talks about his remote father’s outsized academic expectations for him (“Have I told you that your brothers and sister have also excelled in their schooling? It’s in the blood, I think”; “Barry, you do not work as hard as you should … If the boy has done his work for tomorrow, he can begin on his next day’s assignments. Or the assignments he will have when he returns from the holidays”) and about his overprotective mother’s use of guilt as leverage (“A healthy dose of guilt never hurt anybody,” she tells him, “It’s what civilization was built on, guilt. A highly underrated emotion”) the Asian American reader’s feelings of deja vu will have slipped from amusing to uncanny.

Translating identity

But even if Obama’s personal narrative reads like it was written to an Asian American template, why should that matter? The fact is, understanding this dimension of his makeup offers critical insights to how his outlook and political sensibilities were forged, even providing explanation for some of his more controversial positions, such as his charge to black America about the crises of disengaged parenting and broken families.

“The senator often talks about the importance of education, the value of hard work, and the need for a sense of personal responsibility,” says Chris Lu. “That resonates with a lot of Asian Americans, who feel they’ve pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, and understand the notion that what we accomplish in life is in large part a measure of who we are as people, and how hard we strive.”

To some African American leaders, notably the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Obama’s continued reminders of the duty of parents to their children and citizens to their society sound elitist and patronizing. To Asian Americans, they sound … well, they sound familiar. They’re at the core of the ethical foundation many of us have inherited, that fusion of post-Confucian philosophy and immigrant ethos the media often calls “Asian values.”Aspiration tempered with pragmatism. Strenuous effort and rigorous accountability as the bedrock of success. Moderation in all things, humility in times of triumph, patience in periods of tribulation.

This is a point often missed by those who have assessed Obama at face value, seeing in him a fiery street preacher or a bright-eyed idealist, an iconoclast or an ideologue, and expressed disillusionment with what they see as “triangulation” or “pandering” in some of his recent positions. The people who know him best say that the senator is nothing if not consistent — that throughout his career and campaign he has stayed true, if you will, to his Asian American roots.

The coat of many colors

Calling Obama the first Asian American president doesn’t obscure or invalidate his other identities — black, white, multiracial, transnational, pancultural. If anything, it simply highlights the fact that his diverse heritage uniquely invites those around him to project on him a full spectrum of hopes and dreams.

“He’s basically a human Rorschach test,” says Lu. “African Americans think, and rightfully so, that this is a guy who understands their experience. But it’s similar if you talk to Latinos and Asian Americans, or to our 22-year-old field organizers. People see in him the qualities they want to see.”

The important thing to note is that this isn’t a case of “either/or,” but “and.” Perhaps the way to read Obama was best pointed out by another black man of mixed heritage, another pioneer whose arrival on a heretofore lily-white landscape shook the firmament. If we are all Tiger Woods, there’s no reason we can’t all be Barack Obama. We are the world’s foremost Cablinasian nation, and in an increasingly flat and unbounded global landscape, this is not a weakness, but our greatest competitive strength.

“It’s amusing watching people come up with these caricatures suggesting he’s not American,” notes Lu. “He’s not only American, his story is the quintessential American story. It’s the story that our nation is all about.”

Read full story here. 

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hispanics could put Obama over the top

The overlooked demographic could be the Democrat’s key to western states

By Chuck Todd
Political Director
NBC News
updated 2:20 p.m. ET, Mon., Oct. 27, 2008

 

 
Chuck Todd
Political Director

• Profile
 

WASHINGTON – If Barack Obama goes on to win the election, there will be plenty of ink and video spent on chronicling the historic nature of the turnout among young voters and African-Americans. 

But as important as both constituencies have been to Obama — particularly in the primaries — it’s Hispanics that could be putting him over the top on Nov. 4.

Obama’s dominance among Hispanics in the West is proving to be the difference maker in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. In addition, the increased numbers of non-Cuban Hispanics in Florida, as well as the growing Hispanic population in North Carolina and Virginia, could be the tipping voting group in those three states.

 

So how did this happen? When this general election began, there were three pieces of evidence cited to develop the conventional wisdom that Obama would under-perform with Hispanics:

  • He lost Hispanics by very wide margins to Hillary Clinton in the primaries.
  • John McCain’s efforts to fight his party on the issue of immigration, in addition to his Southwestern political roots, would win him votes with Hispanics.
  • Hispanics are perceived to be hesitant to vote for black candidates. Of course, there was only anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon in a few big city mayoral contests.

As it turns out, Clinton won the demographic because she courted them heavily and used Bill Clinton to campaign as a familiar advocate for Hispanics.

As for McCain, despite his best efforts (as well as that of President Bush and Karl Rove), the Republican brand has been tainted, potential for the long-term, due to the negative tone of the immigration debate that took place on conservative talk radio and in the presidential primaries.

In fact, McCain’s immigration stance was so damaging that it is what nearly derailed his candidacy in mid-2007, not Iraq as the campaign sometimes likes to claim.

Read full story here. 

 

 

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Triumph of Ignorance: How Morons Succeed in U.S. Politics

By George MonbiotMonbiot.com.

Obama has a lot to offer, but until our education system is fixed or religious fundamentalism withers, anti-intellectuals will flaunt their ignorance.

How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the United States come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president? How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are? How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist?

Like most people on this side of the Atlantic, I have spent my adult life mystified by American politics. The United States has the world’s best universities and attracts the world’s finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century: Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived; but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency). Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan’s response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. Carter — stumbling a little, using long words — carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said, “There you go again.” His own health program would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks.

It wasn’t always like this. The founding fathers of the republic — men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton — were among the greatest thinkers of their age. They felt no need to make a secret of it. How did the project they launched degenerate into George W. Bush and Sarah Palin?

On one level, this is easy to answer: Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people. U.S. education, like the U.S. health system, is notorious for its failures. In the most powerful nation on Earth, 1 adult in 5 believes the sun revolves around the Earth; only 26 percent accept that evolution takes place by means of natural selection; two-thirds of young adults are unable to find Iraq on a map; two-thirds of U.S. voters cannot name the three branches of government; and the math skills of 15-year-olds in the United States are ranked 24th out of the 29 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

But this merely extends the mystery: How did so many U.S. citizens become so dumb and so suspicious of intelligence? Susan Jacoby’s book The Age of American Unreason provides the fullest explanation I have read so far. She shows that the degradation of U.S. politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies.

One theme is both familiar and clear: Religion — in particular fundamentalist religion — makes you stupid. The United States is the only rich country in which Christian fundamentalism is vast and growing.

Jacoby shows that there was once a certain logic to its anti-rationalism. During the first few decades after the publication ofOrigin of Species, for example, Americans had good reason to reject the theory of natural selection and to treat public intellectuals with suspicion. From the beginning, Darwin’s theory was mixed up in the United States with the brutal philosophy — now known as Social Darwinism — of the British writer Herbert Spencer. Spencer’s doctrine, promoted in the popular press with the help of funding from Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison, suggested that millionaires stood at the top of a scala natura established by evolution. By preventing unfit people from being weeded out, government intervention weakened the nation, according to the doctrine; gross economic inequalities were both justifiable and necessary.

 

Darwinism, in other words, became indistinguishable to the public from the most bestial form of laissez-faire economics. Many Christians responded with revulsion. It is profoundly ironic that the doctrine rejected a century ago by such prominent fundamentalists as William Jennings Bryan is now central to the economic thinking of the Christian Right. Modern fundamentalists reject the science of Darwinian evolution and accept the pseudoscience of Social Darwinism.

But there were other, more powerful reasons for the intellectual isolation of the fundamentalists. The United States is peculiar in devolving the control of education to local authorities. Teaching in the Southern states was dominated by the views of an ignorant aristocracy of planters, and a great educational gulf opened up. “In the South,” Jacoby writes, “what can only be described as an intellectual blockade was imposed in order to keep out any ideas that might threaten the social order.”

The Southern Baptist Convention, now the biggest Protestant denomination in the United States, was to slavery and segregation what the Dutch Reformed Church was to apartheid in South Africa. It has done more than any other force to keep the South stupid. In the 1960s it tried to stave off desegregation by establishing a system of private Christian schools and universities. A student can now progress from kindergarten to a higher degree without any exposure to secular teaching. Southern Baptist beliefs pass intact through the public school system as well. A survey by researchers at the University of Texas in 1998 found that 1 in 4 of the state’s public school biology teachers believed that humans and dinosaurs lived on Earth at the same time.

This tragedy has been assisted by the American fetishization of self-education. Though he greatly regretted his lack of formal teaching, Abraham Lincoln’s career is repeatedly cited as evidence that good education, provided by the state, is unnecessary; all that is required to succeed is determination and rugged individualism. This might have served people well when genuine self-education movements, like the one built around the Little Blue Books in the first half of the 20th century, were in vogue. In the age of infotainment, it is a recipe for confusion.

Besides fundamentalist religion, perhaps the most potent reason why intellectuals struggle in elections is that intellectualism has been equated with subversion. The brief flirtation of some thinkers with communism a long time ago has been used to create an impression in the public mind that all intellectuals are communists. Almost every day, men like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly rage against the “liberal elites” destroying America.

The specter of pointy-headed alien subversives was crucial to the elections of Reagan and Bush. A genuine intellectual elite — like the neocons (some of them former communists) surrounding Bush — has managed to pitch the political conflict as a battle between ordinary Americans and an overeducated pinko establishment. Any attempt to challenge the ideas of the right-wing elite has been successfully branded as elitism.

Obama has a good deal to offer America, but none of this will come to an end if he wins. Until the great failures of the U.S. education system are reversed or religious fundamentalism withers, there will be political opportunities for people, like Bush and Palin, who flaunt their ignorance.


November 3, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Growing Asian-American vote sheds passive past

By JESSE WASHINGTON – 

LORTON, Va. (AP) — For a long time, says Loc Pfeiffer, his fellow Asian-Americans were passive participants in American politics. But things are changing.

“Asians don’t like confrontation or being adversarial, but that’s politics,” says Pfeiffer, a 41-year-old lawyer who was 6 when his parents brought him to America from Vietnam.

“The more we’re raised and bred here, the less likely we are to be passive. So much of our culture, it’s a very, very obedient culture. … You don’t argue with the government. You don’t argue with Big Brother. There’s the assumption that you give up all your individual rights for the whole. Which is astounding to me, because I’m American now.”

An assertive Asian America matters, especially in places like Virginia and Nevada, swing states where Asians have been growing in numbers and influence.

With a booming population of highly educated, increasingly Americanized voters, this former “silent minority” is entering the most engaged and visible era of its political history.

The number of Asians in the United States has grown 25 percent in the last seven years, to 15 million, said Jane Junn, an associate professor of political science at Rutgers University. Educated people are more likely to vote, and 50 percent of the Asian population has a college degree, compared with 25 percent of the U.S. population, Junn said.

“There comes a point where there’s a critical mass,” said Junn, whose parents were born in Korea. “When you’re only one person out of 100, you’re very self-conscious about (becoming politically active). But there is power in numbers.”

Asian attitudes toward the two presidential candidates are as varied as the nations stretching from India to Malaysia to Japan, lumped into one racial category by the U.S. Census.

Yet some say Barack Obama’s rise from humble origins resonates with many Asians who value education and hard work as the keys to success and have been forced to fit their heritage into an American framework.

In a recent column for the San Francisco Chronicle, writer Jeff Yang was even inspired to riff on President Clinton’s honorary black membership and ask if Obama’s background — parental academic pressure, struggle for identity, guilt-wielding mother, Harvard education — would make him the first Asian-American president.

“So much of what we deal with is the notion of being outsiders, foreigners, of being outside the social dialogue of the United States,” Yang said in an interview. “You look at Obama and those are some of the same aspersions and slanders being cast at him. He’s kind of the closest thing we can have legally to an immigrant in the White House. He’s somebody who understands this journey that Asian-Americans and other immigrants have made.”

Obama also spent much of his youth in Hawaii, with its Asian-American majority, and in Indonesia. Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is the daughter of his white mother and an Indonesian businessman, and has helped reach out to the Asian-American community.

Yang added that his Taiwan-born parents, who had never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate, were seriously considering Obama.

News of Yang’s Obama proclamation inspired hearty laughter at the gathering of a half-dozen lawyers at the home of 65-year-old Paul Nguyen in Lorton. Although many had voted Republican in the past, all but one planned to vote for Obama.

When Nguyen said Asians had to learn the American political system and form a bloc to demand something in return for their votes, the conversation bubbled over:

“We never ask for anything. We always work for what we get.”

“We’re too diverse. You can’t bring the Filipinos, the Koreans, the Japanese, everybody all together.”

“We’re still in the infancy of our presence here.”

“Now we’re more active, more aware. Over the last 10 or 20 years it’s happened very slowly.”

In the past, Asians were largely overlooked during past presidential campaigns because of their widely varied nationalities and concentration in the reliably Democratic states of California and New York.

Now, both campaigns have national Asian outreach efforts. In Virginia, Obama’s campaign is focusing on sending language-specific volunteers to register voters from particular countries. The McCain campaign’s priority is securing the support of community leaders from the Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian and Filipino communities.

Although no Democratic presidential candidate has won Virginia since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, polls show Obama edging ahead. Meanwhile, the state’s Asian population has grown from 3.7 percent in 2000 to 4.8 percent in 2006, above the national average of 4.4 percent.

Virginia’s Asians are concentrated in the D.C. suburbs, where the Asian population reaches as high as 16 percent in Fairfax County, as well as the Norfolk area, where the naval operations have attracted Filipinos.

There are roughly 300,000 voting-age Asians in Virginia, and about 100,000 registered Asian voters, according to estimates from the Obama and McCain campaigns.

In 2006, after incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen was caught on tape using the slur “macaca” to describe an Indian from the opposing campaign, he lost to Democrat Jim Webb by 7,231 votes out of 2.37 million ballots cast. Seventy-six percent of the Asian vote went against Allen.

In the past, many Asians nationally have leaned Republican because of the party’s record of fighting Communism, support for small business owners, and emphasis on personal responsibility and family values.

A Vietnamese group from northern Virginia recently endorsed McCain at a rally attended by about 200 people. Some Asian supporters point to McCain’s military service, Vietnam imprisonment, an adopted daughter from Bangladesh, plus his support in the Senate for issues such as free trade and visa waivers.

Tuyet Duong, who has been canvassing undecided Vietnamese voters for the Obama campaign, said many people she talks to are voting based on the candidates’ life stories rather than the issues, and the fact that McCain fought in Vietnam strikes a powerful chord.

Yet Asian voters nationwide appear to be favoring Obama, the Democrat, in greater numbers than the 54 percent who voted for Democrat John Kerry in 2004.

This could be explained by President Bush’s unpopularity, Obama’s recent rise in the polls amid the economic implosion, or the fact that Obama’s Senate chief of staff and legislative director are Asian. But it also has something to do with a new generation of Asian-Americans.

Two-thirds of U.S. Asians are foreign-born. Their American-born children are now thriving, many in professions like medicine, law and high-tech industries. English is the first language of this second generation. And they have landed squarely in the Obama sweet spot of young and educated supporters.

“I’ve lived my life trying to be kind of race-neutral,” said Michael Chang, 34, who was born in Washington, D.C. to Korean parents. After his father died when he was 10, Chang’s mother sent him to law school and his sister to two doctoral degrees, all on a legal secretary’s salary.

Chang, who is married to an Italian immigrant, plans to vote for Obama because he likes his stance on the issues and because he’s younger. He also believes that Obama’s background, coupled with his rejection of racial rhetoric, makes him more relatable for younger, mainstream Asians.

“I’m proud of my heritage, said Chang, “but I think of myself as American.”

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gNzifIMl7RxOZEwr4sPdjq12RFHQD942EKV80

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ron Reagan: I Endorse Barack Obama

I assumed most people already knew that I had supported Obama. Anyone who has spent five minutes listening to my program would have known that. But if it helped to make it official, I’m happy to make it so.

Read full story and hear radio program here. 

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winning the Latino Vote — McCain’s Blunder, Obama’s Advantage

ANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct 28, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) — With barely a week left in the campaign, the anticipated record-breaking turnout of at least 9.2 million Hispanic voters could be key to winning swing states such as New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.
In June 2008 when general election campaigning began in earnest, in an article entitled “Winning the Latino Vote in the General Election,” as head of Poza Consulting Services (a market research and strategic planning consultancy targeting U.S. general market and Latino audiences) I explained that the key to reaching Hispanic voters was to focus on their needs as the hardest hit of the hardest hit in the current economic downturn.
The average U.S. Latino has more children and earns less than the average American. The relatively lower-paying jobs Latinos tend to hold typically don’t offer health insurance, further endangering their tenuous grasp on economic survival. Added to this, the vast majority of jobs held by Latinos are in construction and service industries, among the first and worst hit in the current economic crisis. Unemployment statistics for the state of California bear this out, reporting a 2.1% increase for Latino workers from July 2007 to July 2008 compared to a 1.2% increase for non-Latino Caucasians during the same period. Among the ranks of the working class currently struggling for survival, Latinos represent a disproportionately high number.
It’s interesting to see how strategy has evolved or devolved for each candidate in the face of this.
Whereas in June John McCain had strong ads targeting Latinos speaking directly to their struggles with soaring gas and grocery prices, in recent months his campaign has changed course, airing ads that focus on the overworked ‘values’ theme. A personal testimonial in Spanish from fellow vet Frank Gamboa says, “…He shares our conservative values and our faith in God. He knows family is the most important thing and that we value hard work.”
This ‘values’ theme has been used to pitch Latinos for 25+ years on everything from car insurance to juice drinks and these consumers have more than noticed. I routinely advise clients to avoid this generic approach that does not distinguish their message or brand from anything or anyone and often draws sneers from the now more cynical Latino audience. As a Los Angeles Latina commented in a recent focus group, “I’m not an idiot. Do you think that just because you invoke God and Family I’m going to buy or believe whatever you’re selling? I have a family to feed. What can you tell me about that?”
This strategic blunder this close to the finish line is symptomatic of the McCain campaign. It suggests early ads targeting the economy were a lucky shot in the dark rather than a strategic insight.
By contrast, Obama’s campaign as recently as June did not appear to have a strategy for targeting Latino voters; however, it did have the good judgment to incorporate hip and catchy videos made by Miguel Orozco, an enthusiastic supporter passionate about Obama’s candidacy and ‘introducing him’ to fellow Latinos. While hip and catchy, these videos did not specifically promote Obama as a candidate who understands the challenges Latinos face.
Recent ads however do. A television ad in Spanish titled “No Greater Priority” calls out hardships facing Latinos in New Mexico, including soaring unemployment rates, the rising number of homes in foreclosure and the increasing number of children without health insurance, contrasted with McCain’s now famous comment of “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” Radio ads deliver focused messages comparing McCain’s healthcare plan to Obama’s, suggesting McCain favors insurance companies while Obama favors Latino families.
The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. polls show Obama leading McCain 65 to 30% nationally among Latinos. And in the important swing state of New Mexico recent polls show McCain’s 4-point lead disappears when the Latino vote (32.4% of registered voters) is factored in, leaving Obama with an 8-point lead.
For Latinos, as with any demographic group, there is no inherent mystery in getting their vote. It’s a matter of understanding what is most important to them and then clearly communicating that understanding. Many have wondered why Hillary Clinton, “an upper class White lady” as one blogger put it, was so successful with Latino voters. Some suggested it was Black-Brown tensions undermining Obama, but this was not the case. During the primaries when Obama’s outreach to Latino voters was nearly non-existent, Clinton’s campaign was bulls-eyeing the needs of working class families, reaching out to Latinos with this same message.
And while some are surprised to see Obama carrying the Hispanic vote in states previously won by Hillary Clinton, this is also no mystery given that he has picked up where Hillary left off, refining his strategy as evidenced in his recent Spanish language ads.
As for John McCain, in a campaign that has careened from tactic to tactic, void of coherent strategy or sense, it seems he almost hit and then veered away from the opportunity to connect with and win what could have been a decisive voter block for him in this election.
Ines Poza, Ph.D., is the owner of Poza Consulting Services, a market research and strategic consulting firm based in Santa Monica, CA. Contact Dr. Poza at 310.264.4637.
SOURCE: Poza Consulting Services

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The Huxtable Effect’ and Obama

Posted by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Brave New Films 

I voted early at the University of New Mexico today. As I stood in line (for 35 minutes) I tried to read a book and tried not to listen to other people’s conversations. I managed the first okay, but the second? Failed.

Sometimes eavesdropping has its reward. A couple of twenty-something college students, neither one African-American, stood in front of me chatting about how they both used to wish Cliff Huxtable was their dad when they were kids. Cliff was tough, but cool. He wore ugly sweaters — a plus ever since Mr. Rogers made it fatherly chic.

In all the talk about the supposed “Bradley effect” in this year’s presidential election, I think big media have missed the much bigger story, which is to say few of them are writing/broadcasting about “The Huxtable Effect.”

“The Huxtable Effect,” as I’ve coined it, speaks to the importance of images in popular culture — TV, movies, music, books, etc. — and formation of both a sense of self in viewers and, most importantly for our discussion now, a sense of others.

Social scientists have long shown the link between what children see in popular media and how they view the society those images purport to represent. (A good source list here.)

In fact, it has been theorized that every major political movement in the United States has followed, by about two decades, a matching movement in the arts and pop culture.

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s onward was predated by theHarlem Renaissance in literature and art, and the hyper-intellectualbebop movement in jazz, by about 20 years.

The women’s rights movement that peaked in the 1960s and 1970s followed by about 30 years the Rosie the Riveter movement in American popular culture, which aimed to show strong women in movies and in music, spurring 6 million women to replace men at war in factory jobs.

There are no accidents of public consciousness, and there is no better tool for changing perceptions of social roles than popular culture.

So it is, I believe, that Barack Obama’s successful candidacy and likely presidency were heralded with the arrival of The Cosby Show in 1984. On the air for eight seasons, The Cosby Show featured Bill Cosby as Cliff Huxtable, an all-American father, medical doctor, and love husband, in the lead role. Never before in American TV had there been such a character. But the impact of Cosby’s weekly presence in America’s family rooms, as the fair-minded, fun, quirky Dr. Huxtable, cannot be underestimated in its affect upon the consciousness of Americans who were children and young adults at the time.

Read the full story here.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | **MAIN**, Entertainment, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment