Election 2014  
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Moyers: The Rise of Hispanic America

The growing electoral clout of the Latino constituency is getting harder for national politicians to ignore.

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MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: We agree on most things, but we have different views on this.

BILL MOYERS: You and Jorge?

MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: Yes. This is the only issue—

BILL MOYERS: Well how do you disagree with him on this?

MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: I know that he promised just like every other politician promises. But I don't think that there wasn't a major effort. And I do understand that for health reform you need 50 votes in the Senate and that for immigration reform you needed 60 votes in the Senate. I think maybe they could have been a little bit more forceful in the issues, but I understand.

BILL MOYERS: Do Hispanics sometimes feel pandered to? I mean, as we speak the White House has announced that President Obama is going to California to dedicate the César Chávez Memorial, a wonderful symbolic right in time for the election.

MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: Well, I think we always have that sense because they are always--

JORGE RAMOS: I call it--

MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: -- they're always pandering to Latinos and it's not just now. I think it's always. You know, you have politicians go to east L.A. and on a parade wearing a sombrero or they go to Miami and have a little cafecito on Calle Ocho in Versailles. They do the things that they feel, they utter a few words here and there in Spanish and they feel, "This is what we need to do to get the Hispanic vote." And sometimes they forget that there are actual issues and their positions on the issues that is going to decide whether they're going to get the support or not.

JORGE RAMOS: I call it the Christopher Columbus syndrome. Because every four years they rediscover us, Hispanics. And then they forget about us for three years and then they rediscover us again. So—

BILL MOYERS: And yet as the news reported this week, we discussed it earlier but this is still striking, President Obama holds a 73 percent to 21 percent lead over Mitt Romney over Latino voters. That's up from the 65 to 26 advantage he held six weeks ago.

JORGE RAMOS: Latinos will decide the election in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Florida.

BILL MOYERS: Because?

JORGE RAMOS: Because in a very close election, Latino voters tend to decide which way to go. It happened in 2000, with President George W. Bush in Florida. And it's going to happen again this year.

BILL MOYERS: There was a report from the Pew Hispanic Center a few days ago saying that a record 24 million-- 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote but their turnout rate has consistently lagged behind whites and blacks.

MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: Yeah, but not that much. One of the late-- you know, the Latino decision polls and media polls are usually very accurate because they're polling specifically Latino voters, registered voters. And the enthusiasm level was very low. In the last poll it had increased to 83 percent which is--

JORGE RAMOS: But it's understandable--

MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: --because we're getting--

BILL MOYERS: Romney?

MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: No, we're getting a little bit closer to the election, people are paying more attention. They realize that there is more at stake. But when you see these polls and to try to understand why the numbers are so different between Romney and Obama, you have to understand that the parties also and the great majority feel that Democrats represent their interests and care about their issues more than Republicans.