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The Latino vote

Maxx Paez | Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tonight Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), the Institute for Latino Studies, the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy and the Center for Social Concerns will host a panel discussion titled, “American Politics in the 21st Century: The Latino Vote.” The event is open to the public and it is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in McKenna Hall Auditorium with a reception to follow at the conclusion of the event.

Dianne Pinderhughes, the President’s Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Political Science and African Studies, will moderate the four person panel which includes: Michael Jones-Correa, Matt Barreto, Maria Torres and Ricardo Ramirez. Michael Jones-Correa is Professor of Government at Cornell University. He is the co-author of Latino Lives in America: Making It Home (Temple 2010), the author of “Between Two Nations: The Political Predicament of Latinos in New York City” (Cornell, 1998) and the editor of “Governing American Cities: Interethnic Coalitions, Competition, and Conflict” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2001), as well as the author of more than two dozen articles and chapters on immigration, race, ethnicity and citizenship in the United States. Matt A. Barreto is an Associate Professor of political science at the University of Washington in Seattle, and he is currently the Director of the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. Matt specializes in Latino and immigrant voting behavior, and teaches courses on Racial and Ethnic Politics, Latino Politics, Voting and Elections and American Politics at UW. Maria Torres is the Director and Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is author of two books, “The Lost Apple: Operation Pedro Pan, Cuban Children in the U.S. and the Promise of a Better Future.” Currently she is a co-Principal Investigator for another book on Youth Politics in the Age of Globalization, funded by Chapin Hall and the Kellogg Foundation and was Co-PI for a National Science Research Foundation Project: Civic Engagement in Three Latino Neighborhoods. Ricardo Ramirez is a Visiting Associate Professor at Notre Dame’s political science department. He studies diversity in politics by analyzing differences among Latino voters and patterns of political mobilization by naturalized Latinos. His work is part of a larger effort by the political science department of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences to understand the nuances of the state’s diverse electorate by watching how African Americans, Asians and Latinos cast their political opinions.

Ricardo Ramirez notes that, after studying the data from the 2008 general election, it is evident that the number of Latinos voting soared to historic levels. There was a large influx of young Latino voters, along with many naturalized Latinos submitting their votes for the first time. Since 2006, these two factors have heavily influenced the tremendous growth in the number of Latinos eligible to vote in elections. As for the 2010 midterm elections, Ramirez states that he expects this trend to continue. Although it is difficult to predict which party most Latinos will align with for the 2010 midterm election, Ramirez’s research reveals that Latino voting patterns are heavily influenced by the level of interaction they experience with political candidates. He also details, “Given that it will be an interesting race between a Republican, a Democrat and an Independent candidate, the Latino vote could heavily influence the outcome of the election.” Based on data Ramirez has collected from previous elections, Ramirez believes that the overall number of Latinos participating in the 2010 midterm election will largely reflect the participation rates of the general population. Ramirez elaborates, “Similar to the general population, in states that are very competitive, you will have more Latinos coming out to vote, while in states that are not competitive, you will have less Latinos voting.” In the next 15-20 years, the Latino voting landscape should mirror the current growth trends, both in the number of Latinos eligible to vote and the number of Latinos participating in elections. However, Ramirez admits that it is very difficult to forecast which party the majority of Latinos will choose to align with down the road.

The discussion, “American Politics in the 21st Century: The Latino Vote,” will further explore these topics, in addition to others, as Ricardo Ramirez and the other panelists share more of their research.


Maxx Paez is a junior. He can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.