Little Rock Professor Christina Bejarano, a Texan now teaching at the University of Kansas, was on the program at the Clinton School of Public Service giving a brief talk on the “Latino Gender Gap in U.S. Politics,” so I popped in for a minute to see what insights she might offer. The bottom line in her presentation was simple and sweet: Latina women may be the swing voters to capture in the contest to win Hispanic voters by both parties.
Why? Well, her research shows that Latinas vote 10% more frequently that the men, are more likely to be citizens, are more likely to care about local issues rather than events in the home country, are more likely to push their men to become citizens, and are not planning on leaving the United States, but deepening roots and staying here. Part of the reason she argued is that greater activity in the home and community has tended to “socialize” Latina women more thoroughly, leading to these kinds of results. Of 23 million Hispanic registered voters, this gives Latina women a huge potential voice, and, importantly, it’s the women who are both more progressive according to surveys and focus groups and more likely to be Democratic voters. Additionally, she mentioned that there are now several important PACs forming with interests in Latinas and Texas like Poder Pac and Latina Lists, and there might be something big beginning to happen here.
Couple these comments with Charles Blow’s column in the New York Time about the weird positioning of the Republican Party around their diminishing base of white men, and it’s not hard to see which star is rising and which one is falling. Exit polls he cited show that the high water mark for Republican man love was the 11% advantage that George W. Bush enjoyed in beating Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004, while Obama won men by 1% in 2008 and lost them by 7% in 2012.
Citing the litany of Republican politicians’ feet being inserted either in their own mouths or in women’s south sides time after time, Blow says that, “The Republican Party is in danger of becoming a man cave of cavemen and the women who can abide them.”
I think they may have already crossed the red line there. Listening to an interview on KABF of potential candidates running in what is now a Republican seat in the 2nd District, once known for Democratic Ways of Means old lion, Wilbur Mills, and now Republican, a leading woman Republican and staunchly conservative candidate, was tellingly caught and conflicted on some of these issues, arguing for voter IDs in Arkansas, not because there was voter fraud, but because she remembered problems as a younger woman acting as a poll watcher when men would try, and sometimes get away, with voting for their wives, and on choice explaining her position as having been pro-choice as a younger woman, but then becoming anti-abortion after motherhood. Maybe you can run and win in Arkansas debating those differences and distinctions, but that kind of schizophrenia is politics is poison, and the Republican men leading their party seemed to be grabbing for that pill box.
Where does our hope for the future go? Viva, Latinas!