Post-Election Analysis

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Post-Election analysis of Election 2004 includes a discussion of how Latinos candidates fared and Proposition 200.

José Cárdenas:
Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte". It was near-record turnout for voters in the valley and across the country. We'll talk about the Hispanic vote and how they voted. How did the Democratic and Republican Latino candidates do in races for state legislature and U.S. Congress. And proposition 200, the fight for votes has ended, but when will the legal challenges begin? All next on "Horizonte."

José Cárdenas:
The election results are in. How did Latino candidates fare in races in Arizona and U.S. congress? Who did Hispanic voters choose? We'll talk more about election issues, but first, let's take a look at some results. President Bush wins in Arizona with 55% of the vote. U.S. Congress District 2, Trent Franks wins over Randy Camacho. In district 4, incumbent Ed Pastor wins. District 7 congressional race Raul Grijalva wins his seat again. For the state senate Rebecca Rios wins in District 23. House seats in District 13, Democrats Martha Garcia and Steve Gallardo win. In district 15, house, David Lujan and Krysten Sinema are victorious. Incumbents Leah Landrum Taylor and Ben Miranda win in District 16. Incumbent Cheryl Chase and Pete Rios win in District 23 House. Andrew Thomas wins the race for Maricopa County Attorney. And the proposition 200 immigration initiative wins 56% of the vote. Joining us to talk about the results, Latino vote, and other election issues, is Richard De Uriate editorial writer for "The Arizona Republic," Alfredo Gutierrez, political analyst and Richard Ruelas also with the Arizona Republic.

José Cárdenas:
Gentlemen, I want to ask each of you the question to kick it off. Biggest surprise of this election and why?

Alfredo Gutierrez:
I don't know that there was any great surprises, perhaps Bush's victory, the margin of victory. All polling indicated it would be much narrower. The other surprise perhaps tied into that is there is a truism in the Democratic party, that the more people vote the better Democrats fare and that was proved untrue in this election.

José Cárdenas:
Richard D.

Richard De Uriate:
We always have these rules that we never -- that we live by, if the Washington Redskins lose, the incumbent wins, and back six months ago, we were arguing, well, Howard Dean was going to be the clear Democratic nominee because on January 1st, he had the most money and he was ahead on the polled and that's always a truism. The truisms work until they don't work. I think Alfredo is right, also with -- I don't know if there were surprises, other than I think that Matthew Dowd's prediction and challenge that George Bush needed 40% of the Latino vote, if he were going to carry the nation, turned out to be true. Apparently Hispanics did vote in greater numbers. They made up about according to some exit polls of the "Associated Press," they made up 10% of the national vote, equal to African Americans, which is a first, as far as where they are.

José Cárdenas:
I want to come back to discuss the Latino vote, but first, Richard Ruelas, what's your biggest surprise?

Richard Ruelas:
My biggest surprise was personal, going to my personal polling place was the constant line. We really did come out in record numbers here. The other surprise was that the margin of victory of proposition 200. I expected to be slightly greater, especially in Maricopa County than it was, and I think there was a narrowing of that gap as people got to know more and more about that proposition.

José Cárdenas:
Let's talk about the national vote. Why do you think it came out the way it did, Richard?

Richard De Uriate:
I think that any time you try to categorize people in this world now, in a modern day, people are individuals. The vote for president or even a senator, is a highly personal one. Who matches your visions, your goals, who is like you, Ken Salazar in Colorado, Colorado is -- has been under a 20-year conservative ascendancy and yet he bucked that.

José Cárdenas:
At the presidential level, what are the aspects of President Bush that Latino voters would have come out and vote for him, 44%?

Richard De Uriate:
Military, I think that the same as other people. Leadership, military war record, if our economy was good, you have a broader diversity of economic situations among Latinos, just as you have among other people. Clearly Cubans, Cubans have gone Republican for quite sometime and they continue to do that in Florida, and they made up a portion. And all of these other votes that Kerry hoped for didn't materialize.

Richard Ruelas:
The block is not monolithic, Cuban Americans being a prime example.

José Cárdenas:
Not only that but Hispanic percentages were fairly consistent. You had 44% national, 43% Arizona, at least according to exit polls, and you had 44% Hispanic in New Mexico.

Alfredo Gutierrez:
Let me rain on the parade. You are relying on exit polling from AP and CNN, but you are relying on exit polling. There is a separate exit poll done by the Willie Velasquez institute, they have more experience polling Hispanics than any other entity in this country. Their numbers are substantially different. Their numbers are that Hispanics voted Democratic in record numbers. Now, I'm not suggesting that AP is absolutely wrong and my poll to your poll, what I'm suggesting is that exit polling is unreliable at this point. In the course of time, the next 60 days or so, a different kind of polling going into a precinct by precinct analysis will be able to discover what happened. I can tell you that my experience here in this state is it didn't happen, that the AP poll is wrong, but -- and that the Willie Velasquez is closer to the truth, but mine are anecdotal.

José Cárdenas:
Do you have numbers from Velasquez?

Alfredo Gutierrez:
Well, you have a participation -- or voting for President Bush at 36%, as opposed to 40, which was 38 the last time around. So you've dropped a couple of points. That's what you have. I mean, it isn't a significant drop, but it certainly isn't the significant increase that was being touted last night on international television.

Richard De Uriate:
There was a base election. I think that Carl Rove's strategy was to bring out more evangelical Christians. He raised the figure of 4 million people that he -- that Republicans had left at the kitchen table in the year 2000. What is true, what we do know is that Latinos did rise in proportion of the national vote, and so did George Bush. George Bush lost by a half a million with only 100 million voting, and it has been another gospel that if Democrats can get a large voter turnout, well, we had almost 120 million, think, and George Bush won by not a comfortable margin, but he won by 4 million votes.

Richard Ruelas:
Latino voters are not as easily reachable. You can't get them summed up by being Catholic and saying a few words in Spanish. It's a sophisticated electorate that has different issues as it gets more into the middle class. I think the only thing that might still be in common among Latinos, there is a sympathy for those still struggling.

José Cárdenas:
Is there a generational difference? One of the comments on NPR this morning was that the first time voters overall trended toward Kerry about 54-44. But for the 22% of Latinos who identified themselves in exit polls as first-time voters that split evenly. They thought that was significant. Alfredo?

Alfredo Gutierrez:
Again, the numbers, I just think, you know, we're jumping to conclusions from very quick exit polling, and I could argue the other side. But in the instance of first-time voters, what you have is I think a phenomena that we're going to have to struggle with in the Hispanic community. That is the first time voter tends to be much more conservative. This notion of there being a southern church and a northern church that issues such as gay rights resonate very differently between second and third generation Hispanics and those who recently arrived, become American citizens and are voting for the first time, these social issues, abortion, resonate in a very different way. The Hispanic community tends to be, though very socially conservative, very tolerant, and that has been historically the case. Not with the recently arrived. They don't share that level of tolerance. And sometimes, and I think to a great degree, they are moved by what, you know, what theologians call the southern church, the very conservative church.

Richard De Uriate:
Indeed, you can go across the cultures and see that immigrant families are concerned about their children becoming Americanized too quickly. So you know, when we play with numbers --

José Cárdenas:
There is an interesting prospect that the Republican party, which is more typically identified with anti-immigrant measures, might be better off if they were recruiting within the immigrant community.

Alfredo Gutierrez:
There is a number of observers who said and I firmly believe this and I wrote this at the time that had Pete Wilson not existed, Ronald Reagan would have made the Hispanic community, especially the Mexican American community overwhelmingly Republican. The amnesty program with Reagan made him heroic in our community. It would have led to, I think massive re-registration as Republicans had Pete Wilson not sort of come up as the evil man and drove everybody back into the Democratic party saying see what I mean? They are anti-immigrant, we are pro-immigrant.

Richard De Uriate:
That's an interesting point, Alfredo, because I think what the polls will show is that President Bush got the highest number of Latino votes as a percentage of any Republican president since Ronald Reagan, and that's interesting because it'll be interesting to see if California's 187 history, which then ushered in a lot of Democrats, an historic shift from what might have been a mixture, to a straight Democratic, which has elected Barbara Boxer and Feinstein and Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger who are all moderates on racial issues, into California, if that has the same kind of backlash to Arizona, which other people have thought, that a proposition 200 will increase the Latino awareness, Latino vote. It's interesting --


José Cárdenas:
I want to talk about proposition 200 a little bit, but before we leave the national scene, Richard at the congressional level, senate and house levels, any interesting races there?

Richard Ruelas:
There were precious few, especially in Arizona, we have our two safe seats which gets us back to districts and jerrymandering, why minorities are concentrated in the safe areas, leaving the rest open to no competition and white Republicans winning. But I think as long as Latino issues are those of the downtrodden or the middle class, public education, war, we're going to see a lot of Latinos going over to Iraq, we're now having a strong Republican president with a strong Republican congress, and some of these issues that matter, issues of taxation, George Bush has flirted with the idea of maybe instituting a national sales tax. That falls heavily on the -- that falls heavily on the Latino community.

José Cárdenas:
We have two Hispanic senators.

Alberto Gutierrez:
Well, you know, symbols are important. Symbols are very, very important and the progress of an immigrant group in America, and they are both symbols, one for the Cuban American community, and Salazar, his family has been here 400 years, so I guess he finally got around to it, but for us as Hispanics in general, symbols are important, and because it means participation. It means doors are opening. It means barriers are falling, and it's important. It's important for our kids to see someone like Salazar, Mr. Martinez, in those positions, in that context of influence in power, symbols are important.

Richard De Uriate:
And significantly, they didn't run as the Latino candidate for Governor or for the U.S. senate, they ran as Coloradans. In fact the whole race in Colorado was -- reminded me of centennial, two old distinguished families in Colorado going for it, and Ken Salazar ran around the state as -- in his green pickup truck. He emphasized his rural roots, up from the boot straps.

José Cárdenas:
And a somewhat conservative campaign. He was running away from Senator Kerry, not appearing with him.

Richard De Uriate:
His appeals were very, very moderate, and he was twice elected as attorney general. This was not a face unknown to Coloradans. I think it points to -- you have to go -- if Latinos are going to move up in -- they can't do it in any other way as -- they have to be elected in competitive districts where they represent everybody and show that they are not the Latino person, they are the best candidate who happens to be Latino or black or whatever.

Richard Ruelas:
The Christian coalition has used that strategy very effectively for the last 20 years, so that there is a lot of evangelicals calls in our state legislature in congress and for our president.

José Cárdenas:
Alfredo, what does the new makeup of the congress mean for quote, unquote, Latino issues. Immigration, for example, nothing was going to happen until after the election were over. They are over now, what is the new makeup mean for immigration reform?

Alberto Gutierrez:
At first glance, it's not good. I mean, it's not good. You've got a U.S. senate we are we've had a clear majority for immigration reform. AG jobs, the Dream Act, which were held up at the Whitehouse's request. This term, the assumption being they would pass quickly next term. You had a substantial majority for them in the U.S. senate. You've lost Daschle. He's been replaced be people who are openly anti-immigration reform, or haven't taken a position quite as strong in each instance. It's going to be very interesting what happens. In the house it's always been a tougher sell. It's about to get tougher. The question of what happens to the Dream Act and AG jobs, both of which are ready to move forward, both of which in this congress have a majority if both houses, it's going to be the first test of George Bush vis-à-vis in his second term, vis-à-vis the congress and Hispanics, what happens to AG jobs, what happens to the Dream Act.

Richard De Uriate:
Might also be an interesting thing because it seems to me that it's a tougher sell among Republicans, immigration reform. That's a vote that goes to a potential faction of those who want nothing more to do with immigration reform than enforce the law that you have and make it tougher, which proposition 200, for example did here, but I think that if immigration is going to reform, I think you needed a Republican president and a Democratic -- the majority Democratic votes for it and enough Republicans to go along, and I don't know if -- I jut don't know. I thought it would be tougher for John Kerry to sell it, than for George Bush to sell it. I think it's -- I think it's very difficult.

Richard Ruelas:
Well, especially in the senate because you needed to be insulated from the voters for a little bit. George Bush doesn't have to face the voters so he can push this.

Alberto Gutierrez:
You've got to recall George Bush ran for office saying he would have a guest worker program and he would resolve these issues. It has been four years. He has never introduced a bill to Congress for immigration reform.

Richard Ruelas:
He knows he is a political key --

Alberto Gutierrez:
He's never --

José Cárdenas:
Why wouldn't he do it now?

Alberto Gutierrez:
Well, we'll find out if the gentler George Bush is the real thing or if that was a plastic cutout of the man.

Richard Ruelas:
He needs to present it because it is a problem.

Alberto Gutierrez:
The single most important issue to the Non-Cuban Hispanic community is immigration, and immigration reform. And that is going to be what people are looking at, AG jobs, the Dream Act. They are there, they are ready. They were held up at the request of the White House. They are ready to go forward. We'll see if that's a promise he intends to keep or not, and you know, I don't want to predict it. I am hoping that it is a promise that he indeed keeps. It would be the most important -- the dream act would have a massive impact on our --

José Cárdenas:
Which is a bill that would allow students to stay here --

Alberto Gutierrez:
Longer than 10 years, they graduated from high school, they are going into college or into the military to regularize themselves that's a new word for amnesty. Republicans have banned the word amnesty from their dictionary.

Richard Ruelas:
It is a problem, he needs to leave, you know, this will be part of the legacy, but also for Republicans. Businesses want this problem solved. They want some way to regularize their workers and their work flow and he wants to make sure that the party itself, that this is not an issue on the trail.

José Cárdenas:
Maybe pave the way for John McCain to be the candidate four years from now.

Richard De Uriate:
I think this will be a challenge for Democrats if they are going to cooperate a little bit, which this nation surely wants some end to this, to this partisanship, this partisan divide. John Kerry yesterday said that he would be willing to be a bridge. We'll see this -- it's not just the Republicans who are on the spot. Let's talk about proposition 200.

Alberto Gutierrez:
The Democrats are on board. There is enough Republicans on board to pass it. It was held at the president's request. In this instance, we're talking about the Dream Act and AG jobs. It is specifically the president that's on the spot, and the veracity of all of his promises to the Hispanic community. It's going to be a quick and instant measure. We'll find out if he was telling the truth or not.

José Cárdenas:
Alfredo will the results of Prop 200 vote here impact that debate in congress?

Alberto Gutierrez:
I certainly think that was the intent. The intent of it was to pass this thing at some of the levels we were seeing in July, polling data indicated it was going pass by 74%. Polling dated from ASU, from the KAET poll indicated as high as 78% in February. So there was a hope that it was going to pass at some phenomenal percentage and force Senator MCCain, Jim Kolbe and Congressman Flake away from this. They are the leaders from a border state of a major immigration reform bill. We managed to bring that down to 56% last night. It will adjust downward slightly, 54 --

José Cárdenas:
Is it a moral victory?

Alberto Gutierrez:
I think it is. It at least provides Senator MCCain, Congressman Kolbe and Congressman Flake with the understanding that had we a bit more time, we probably would have defeated this. We -- the trend line of dropping from 74% to 56% or 53% or 54%, whatever it turns out to be, since July to November 2nd is a tremendously rapid drop, and it happened because we were able to focus people on what it actually said, and secondly, I think it's attributable to Governor Napolitano, Senator MCCain, congressman Kolbe, Congressman Flake, all becoming major spokes persons on this point. And, of course, attorney general -- former attorney general Woods.

José Cárdenas:
Will a victory, however small, inspire similar efforts in other states?

Alberto Gutierrez:
They are done. These folks -- this is -- there is some attempt to perceive these people as, you know, hunky dory little Arizona folk. The overwhelming amount of money in this instance came from -- to put it on the ballot, came from FARE. This is a national effort. It will repeat itself in California in the form of a son of 187, we'll call it. In Colorado it's begun. In South Carolina, in Georgia. So there are already efforts in those states, various nascent points, but they've begun to take this on a national basis.

Richard Ruelas:
This isn't about really solving voter fraud or saving the state a lot of money but scrubbing the welfare roles. This is an expensive public opinion poll that they are hoping goes to Washington.

José Cárdenas:
It's a message about immigration. Is it immigration or what some refer to as culture wars?

Richard Ruelas:
Well, there is a culture war aspect to it. What they want is something done. What they prefer that something to be is let's round 'em all up and send them back across the border. Failing that, I think they are hoping congress does something, and I think this is -- the message that McCain and Flake and Kolbe who survived a battle down south, in Tucson, is able to go to Washington and say this is political poison. You don't want this battle in Illinois or the Carolinas where you are seeing a new immigrant community come. Let's do something. Let's establish a guest worker program or Dream Act or something that regularizes the flow so this is no longer a hot button issue, because you don't want this in your state because it is poisonous politics.

José Cárdenas:
Is any of that going to make a difference? The Protect Arizona Now people early on in the campaign, their web site talked about culture issues.

Alberto Gutierrez:
The people are terribly frustrated with what is going on at the border and voted for that reason, and the leadership is concerned with something way beyond what happens at the border and who can cross. They are concerned with the cultural aspect of our presence in this country. They have spoken about it quite explicitly and specifically. Virginia Abernathy belongs to an organization whose mission and it's on its web site, to ensure that immigration is for certain European countries only, that would exclude to your great surprise, you and I. And so there is this cultural aspect. I mean, you have these people who have exploited tremendous frustration that's going on in this country about immigration. That frustration, by the way, is probably greater in the Hispanic community than in any other community, because we live with it daily, both the reality of people being undocumented and the impact of the undocumented in your neighborhood, in your store, et cetera. It's probably greater there than anywhere else. It was an exploitation of that frustration.

José Cárdenas:
We've got a couple of minutes left. I want to talk about what's going to happen next with proposition 200 in Arizona. Richard?

Richard De Uriate:
Well, I think it's going to be litigated. I think -- but except -- the one thing I want to make clear is that this was a tough sell, because it said -- to make the argument you want to vote against proposition 200, you were in effect saying voter fraud is all right, and welfare fraud is all right. That's a tough thing to say. I know plenty of Latino, especially kids, who voted for this proposal because they said, you know, they went up to the polling place, and said, you're not checking who I am? I'm going to vote for this.

José Cárdenas:
Let me ask this, Alfredo because we're going to run out of time. Litigation, when does it start?

Alberto Gutierrez:
The moment it's certified. It will be certified by the state on the 20th of November, but the moment it's certified, the legal community is in place. The firm has prepared the initial brief and it will be filed. We believe certain municipalities will file independent actions, and we're reviewing whether or not or not we can proceed with criminal action against FARE.

José Cárdenas:
Legislature is tougher for the Governor? You've got 20 seconds.

Richard Ruelas:
Absolutely. The state has elected a moderate Governor, and they like her social agenda because they pass stuff like education and light rail, and yet also passed a bunch of obstructionist lawmakers who will stand in her way.

José Cárdenas:
Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." To see transcripts or see about upcoming shows, visit our web site www.azpbs.org, click on "Horizonte" and follow the links. Thank you for joining us on "Horizonte." I am your host, José Cárdenas. Have a good evening.

Richard De Uriate: Editorial writer, The Arizona Republic;

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