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Latinos Look Beyond Race in Election

V-Me Noticias, Commentary, Jorge Gestoso Posted: Oct 07, 2008

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Editor's Note: Much has been made of Latino voters' supposed hesitancy to support an African-American candidate. But polls show that this doesn't seem to be the case: Latinos are supporting Obama by a huge margin. The economy may trump racial divides in this election, writes commentator Jorge Gestoso. Gestoso is executive editor of V-mes Viva Voz con Jorge Gestoso.

Throughout the presidential campaign, a common theme could be heard -- that Latinos wouldnt vote for Barack Obama because they wont support an African American for president.

Now, it seems Latinos will support Obama after all, with opinion polls showing Hispanics favoring Obama over McCain by a large margin. A groundbreaking poll about the role of race in the election taken mid-September by USA Today, ABC News and Columbia University showed that Hispanics support Obama by 57 percent to 33 percent.

Americans say Obama's groundbreaking candidacy has spotlighted the state of race relations in the United States, but the current angst over the economy bridges racial and ethnic divides.

The USA Today poll shows that blacks, whites and Hispanics agree that the economy and jobs should head the new president's agenda in January. The other concerns near the top of everyone's list: terrorism, health care and education.

Although V-mes political team from both sides of the aisle agrees that the nation's troubled economy is at the center of the political debate, some feel race is still a factor this election year.

I believe that unfortunately we need to speak about the racial subject. I still find Latinos that, although they confide in me in private as they would never speak about this publicly, have issues with the color of Senator Obamas skin, says Washington Post columnist Marcela Sanchez.

I believe that it goes a bit deeper than that, says Jos Lopez Zamorano, Washington Bureau Chief for Notimex, noting that the economy is a central issue for all Americans. For example, in the southern states of the U.S.A. such as Georgia or the Carolinas where we see that theres an economic challenge between Hispanics and African Americans, theres a different focus of tensions which arent necessarily a question of racism but a question of competition.

With at least 10 million eligible Hispanic voters in the United States, nearly all pundits agree that the Latino vote could affect the results in some key "battleground" states like Florida, Colorado and New Mexico.

Race aside, Obama does have one clear advantage: the majority of Latinos in the United States are registered Democrats. This, combined with the Latino propensity to be fiercely brand loyal, will benefit Obama in the general election. Unlike the primary, where Obama was competing against the well-known Clinton brand, this time the brand is the Democratic Party, and with Obama as the only Democrat on the ballot, that's where most Latinos will put their support.


Related Articles:

Where was Latin America in the Debate?

Latinos Confront Old Racism as Election Nears

Ethnic Media Cautiously Laud Obama's Nomination


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