Vote 2010: Election Analysis

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HORIZONTE‘s post-election analysis of the Latino vote, and races and results with former state lawmaker John Loredo and Jaime Molera, political consultant with the Molera Alvarez Group.

Jose Cardenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm Jose Cardenas. Voters made their choices in this year's elections this week. But some close races are yet to be decided because of early ballots that still need to be counted. Here to talk about all of these races, the Latino vote, and more, are Jaime Molera, a political consultant with the Molera Alvarez Group, and also former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction and John Loredo, political consultant and a former state lawmaker. Welcome to our annual -- not annual, but every election we talk about this, and you guys have been here before. This feels a little different, let's start at the national level. Your observations?

Jaime Molera: It was a big night for Republicans. There's no other way to describe it. I think it was monumental. The best phrase I heard last night. You saw the Republicans make huge gains, take back the House, come back very close to taking the Senate. I think today even the president said he got a shellacking. So it was a big, big night for Republicans, one that people are not going to forget for a long time.

Jose Cardenas: The president also said it felt bad.

John Loredo: Sure.

Jose Cardenas: And I'm sure it did. But what does this portend for the elections in 2012? This is the third time it's happened to a sitting president and they come back pretty strong.

John Loredo: Sure. There's always a mid term swing. You go back a few years, it was President George W. Bush saying the same thing when he got shellacked. This is what always happens. At least it has in recent history. In recent history has always shown that it will swing back the other way in just a couple of years. So it will be interesting to see what happens. Whenever something like this happens, expectations are raised to a very high level., almost to a level which you simply can't attain in order to win. And so by either party. And so when you don't hit that level again, there's always a repercussion.

Jose Cardenas: Were you surprised at the margins in terms of the number of seats that were picked up by the Republicans?

John Loredo: I think most people were predicting 50, 60, 70 votes. So it came true.

Jose Cardenas: What about the senate? There were some fears that the Republican -- some fears amongst Democrats that the Republicans might take the senate and they didn't.

Jaime Molera: Well, a couple of things came to pass. And I think it helped Democrats win in the primaries. There were a couple candidates that were considered extreme for the general election. Christine O'Donnell comes to mind, angle in Nevada comes to mind, Karl Rove made good points, a lot of times you have to think about what's good for the party and sometimes it's picking the candidate that's electable. We had a situation here in Arizona, Johnathan Payton, easily, most pundits I know are Windsor have said, had he made it out of the primary, Gifford would be former Congressman today. As it sits now, she's still holding on as we know to a very slim lead. So those are the kind of things that could have made a difference in the U.S. Senate.

Jose Cardenas: You mentioned Karl Rove, and he did have some criticism, unkind comments is the best way to put it of Christine O'Donnell initially, but he backed off. What does that portend for the Republican Party in terms of the influence of the Tea Party members?

Jaime Molera: Well, for one thing, they cannot ignore the Tea Party Movement. And nor can they say, OK, we've won, and we're just going to come in and do business as usual. Today there's been some stories coming out of the Congress that in the new house speakership, where Boehner will become the new House speaker, they're talking about creating a leadership for president of the freshman class, which would allow them to pick a Tea Party representative. So one of the things they want to demonstrate is that it's not just the folks that were in power now coming back to power, what they're trying to demonstrate is we're going to listen and one of the things we're going to do is increase the leadership by bringing new blood in. And that's pretty smart idea.

Jose Cardenas: John, the President made some overtures to the Republicans in his comments. Do you, though, see gridlock in part because of the role the Tea Party members of the Republican Party will say?

John Loredo: Sure. You had -- you kind of had gridlock on big issues with Democrats in control of both chambers. So it's not going to get better. It's probably going to get worse. Whatever comes out of the House is going to have to go through the Senate, and vice versa. So there's going to be some rough times at the beginning where they -- everybody kind of proves their point, and thumps their chest, but at some point they've got to get some work done, so they'll have to figure out some type of a structure that will allow them to do that.

Jose Cardenas: I want to talk about a number of state elections, beginning with Arizona. That will be our primary focus. But at the federal level, any surprises there?

John Loredo: I don't think so. I think the polls were reasonably accurate. I think that folks who thought that Grijalva was going to lose, I think that was wishful thinking.

Jose Cardenas: But it was very close -- it.

John Loredo: Was very close, but I don't think people understood what the Latino turnout in that district was going to be. It was higher than it's ever been. And because of that, I think he was able to hold on to the lead. If they would have come out like they typically do, he wouldn't be a Congressman right now.

Jose Cardenas: What about Giffords?

John Loredo: Giffords, she is in a very tight race right now. I think it was probably closer than most people thought it would be, especially going up against this guy. So she had a lot of help, but clearly it was -- it's much too close for comfort.

Jose Cardenas: Do you agree with John's assessment of the Grijalva race, that the Latino vote saved him?

Jaime Molera: I think that's true. That was one of the things he had to do, he had a lot of national money coming at the very end, and that made a huge difference, It made a big difference for Giffords. One of the things you do is go after your base. And certainly for him, it's going tonight Latino vote. So the phone banks at the end of the day, the people going out and taking the walking list to make sure folks voted, that paid huge dividends. Remember, his candidate that he ran against was not well funded. And lot of the Republicans up until the very end didn't think she had that much of a chance, so they turned their attention to other races in the state. The District Five Harry Mitchell against Schweikert. Ann Kirkpatrick against Gosar. Those are the races that got a lot of the national Republican money. It's interesting what would have happened had a little more investment by the GOP gone into that district.

Jose Cardenas: Do you think it was Grijalva taking the race too lightly? The suggestion was also been that because he called for a boycott of Arizona as a result of the passage of SB 1070, there was a lot of resentment.

Jaime Molera: I think it's the latter. The boycott statement was almost killer for him. And think about it. You're in Tucson, where have you a lot of Service industry, a lot of Latinos in the Service industry that have a 15 to 20% unemployment rate right now. And so when folks are working in the restaurants and working in hotels, and you have a member of Congress in a very well respected down in Tucson saying don't come to Arizona anymore, that's going to tick a lot of people off. And I think it translated in the polls.

Jose Cardenas: Let's move on to the state election, governor, what do you think happened there?

John Loredo: Well, overall in Arizona there was a strong shift by the Independents who came out last time and voted Democrat. Those folks didn't vote democrat this time. They voted Republican, and now you've got basically three equal parties in Arizona. The Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. They are -- the Independents, they are a legitimate big party here now. And so for those folks, they will I think for the foreseeable future determine who gets elected. And this year they swung back the other way. And so that had an effect all the way down the ballot for Democrats, and for Democrats they actually had a decent percentage of Democrats vote Republican. And when you have that type of a formula in play, it's very difficult for any democrat to be elected.

Jose Cardenas: One thing that seems a little counterintuitive is that the suggestion in terms of the national elections has been that Independents and others were just mad at the party in power, things are bad, the economy is not improving, at least at the rate people think it should. So they voted against them. In Arizona, the Republicans have been in power, but they didn't seem to pay the consequences. Why is that?

John Loredo: I don't think Democrats made as big a deal about that as they should have. There was just some poor tactics and poor strategy in play. And quite honestly, immigration became the biggest issue that there is. But to a large extent it was a diversion. It was Republican diversion away from the economy that they've been in charge of for 40 years here in Arizona, it was a diversion away from education, it was diversion and Democrats fell for it. And every minute, every single minute that a Democrat candidate spent talking about immigration, every dollar that they spent talking about immigration, was a dollar and a minute they weren't spending talking about the issues that could have swayed this election in their favor.

Jose Cardenas: Is there anything that Terry Goddard could have done to won the election once, governor briar signed SB 1070?

Jaime Molera: I think Goddard's biggest mistake, and he made several, the campaign was not considered to be a blueprint for how to win an election, I think his biggest failure was starting back during the legislative session of not engaging. Not being a part of the budget discussions. Not being a part of the immigration debate. Remember, he wasn't down at the legislature saying, wait, this might be a bad thing, let's think about it. This issue came on underneath the radar for everybody, and Goddard wanted to let all the Republicans beat each other up. He thought that Brewer was going to have a tough time in the primary --

Jose Cardenas: As did a lot of people.

Jaime Molera: As did a lot of people. But he stayed out of it. And I think what the mistake he made, however, was staying out of the budget debate. Because when he tried to talk about the economy and tried to talk about the budget, a lot of people said, what did you do about it? Where were you when this whole sales tax discussion was going on? Governor Brewer was pushing it, until the very end when he came out a week before the election and said, OK, I think it's a good idea those are the kinds of things where he made fundamental flaws.

John Loredo: And there's also -- when you're the attorney general, the theory is that if you're sitting elected official, you stay there, and you campaign. You don't resign, you stay there because you've got some type of a bully pulpit. When you're the governor, that works great, because you're talking about the issues that you're running on. When you're the attorney general, you're not necessarily talking about the budget and all of these other issues. You're the attorney general. So there's an inherent conflict in the candidate and the position. And it becomes almost impossible to do. So I think in hindsight he would have had a much easier time being a full-time candidate than he was trying to split both roles.

Jose Cardenas: What about the impact of outside money on those races?

Jaime Molera: Well, it had huge impact. Because you had a candidate for governor that everybody wrote off really in June, July, you had no strong candidate to speak of for the U.S. senator, so the top two players in the Democratic Party, people didn't think they had a chance of winning. So what happens? They don't get any national money. And that had a huge ramification. John McCain was very well funded. Almost close to $20 million that he had, and they used it effectively. And they used it by getting out the vote. Jan Brewer had a great resource with the Republican Governors' Association that raised her a lot of money. Those factors -- and John's right, it does - depend on the swings, you have Independents, the big target, but when the Republicans can be assured they're going to get a big turnout, and people were motivated to get out and vote anyway, the Republican side, because they're mad at Obama, they were ability to focus on Independents who were also upset, and able to target on those issues that I think made them agree to vote for the Republican ticket. And I think all that had a huge impact.

Jose Cardenas: I know from some prior discussions you and I had, that you think that had an impact down the line including state legislative races. Let's talk about those. Where do you think it had the most significance?

Jaime Molera: Well, if you look at what happened, you have now 21 Republican senators versus 9 Democrats. You have 40 house Republican members versus 20. You have essentially a veto proof legislature for the GOP. So that is directly related to the McCain, the Brewers, and that whole ticket was able to lift up everybody. So they had big, big coattails yesterday.

Jose Cardenas: John, you had some Democratic incumbents in the state legislature who lost. And some of them I think many of us would think was Rebecca Rios, what happened?

John Loredo: If you look at the trend, Rebecca's district has been a Republican district for a long time. It's just --

Jose Cardenas: The Pinal County --

John Loredo: District 23, the Republicans never went something and did something witness. This time they did. And it's been a split district in the house, one democrat and one Republican. For the last couple years. So I think the numbers were definitely not in her favor if there was a high turnout. And there was a high turnout all the way around. And it was the same in Yuma. Yuma is not exactly the most liberal place in the world. And with immigration especially being such a big issue. I think that played a big role and many of these races. You look at the people who lost, they were three Latinos. And in a couple of these races, they were very dirty, very ugly. In Rios' District there was robo call that went out in Spanish, clarifying that Rebecca was opposed to 1070. And it made it seem as if she was the one who was sending it out there, in Spanish, to English-speaking voters. There was -- that's not exactly a type of thing would you do to a white candidate. So there were definitely racial tones all over these elections.

Jose Cardenas: The assumptions had to be some of these Angelo voters understood Spanish.

John Loredo: They understood 1070 and Rebecca Rios. And the rest of it was Spanish.

Jose Cardenas: On Amanda's race, you had shared a little information earlier about the impact that money had there because of the dissention within the Republican Party.

Jaime Molera: What happened was, you had a lot of legislative leaders that weren't happy with the State Party Apparatus, that decided to park their money with the Yuma County Republican Party. So normally the Yuma County Republican Party, which is great organization, good people, they don't have millions of dollars to play with. So all after sudden they have a lot of resources that they could use at their disposal to help with the get out the vote efforts. Here you had a gentleman who was actually a write-in candidate during the primary, up until three months ago, everybody assumed Amanda was going to be a shoe-in, or she would get it because they didn't have any opponent. He comes in as a write-in candidate, and his candidacy just took off. He was the genuine -- the Arizona epitome of the Tea Party Movement. Because that was his groundswell, and those are the folks that rallied around him.

John Loredo: It's important to again go back to the role that outside corporate money played in this election. It was huge. It was huge in Arizona --

Jose Cardenas: locally -- it.

John Loredo: was huge locally and nationally. This was a record-breaking election, especially after the citizens united ruling. Which basically blew open the doors to corporate spending in elections. So that money makes a difference.

Jaime Molera: I would argue a lot of the corporate money, at least in Arizona, went for a lot of the quote unquote moderate Democrat candidates. Because the big issue is whether or not you're going to have presidency and ended up winning it anyway, but Russell Pearce became the president, a lot of folks in the business community are putting in independent expenditures that didn't want that to happen. So I would argue that there was lot of corporate money, a lot of business money, but I would say that it backfired in a lot of ways, and it ended up helping the more conservative element.

John Loredo: But they also dumped it in congressional races. And when you have those congressional races, that trickles down to local candidates.

Jose Cardenas: I want to talk about the Latino vote, both in Arizona and in a few other states, but the makeup of the legislature, it's not simply more Republican, it's more conservative. You had, what, four or five Tea Party candidates who are there, what do you see happening down the road?

John Loredo: It's definitely more conservative. From a Latino perspective, we lost Latino members. And I think by the time this airs Thursday night, there are correspond very well be a situation where there is no Latino representation in Democratic leadership at the State Capitol. And there's been Latino representation and leadership in the Senate for over 20 years. There's been Latino representation in leadership in the House for over a decade. So the Latino influence at the state legislature is suffering all the way around, not to mention the fact Russell Pearce is going to be going after Latinos tooth and nail. So it's going to be a rough ride. I think overall the problem with the Republicans, even they they've got a super majority, show me 40 votes on anything that the Republicans aren't going to fight over, they couldn't get along with each other when they had lesser votes. And so you're going to have, especially with the vote proof majority, you're going to have factions within the Republican caucus at each others' throats, and they're going to be fighting with Governor Brewer, and when that happens, it's going to be chaos and gridlock, just like it was last term, when they had to have session after session after session just to get a budget out.

Jose Cardenas: So veto proof only on paper?

Jaime Molera: Well, I don't believe the Republicans are going to use the ability to override the governor very often. I think Jan Brewer has a very good rapport with a lot of the legislature. She has had some tough last couple years, but if you think about it and if you look at what happened, I think she's going to have a honeymoon. She's very well liked within the Republican circles, so they're going to want to make her look good. You have a very adept speaker in Kirk Adams that really think wants to rally around the economy, and even with Russell Pearce, one of the stories that's coming out of what happened in the caucus today when they elected him is that he agreed to do a moratorium on immigration issues. So it's curious to see how loaning that might last. But it was the will of the caucus that said we have to focus on the economy. We have to focus on the structural deficit that's killing us. So if you look at all those things and now they've set up a situation where the governor is the one that leads out with the budget, starting in January, the legislature has decided to wait until the governor proposes it, I think you might lead to more reasonable types of budget proposals.

John Loredo: Hopefully it will be more than a one-page paragraph with five bullet points. Hopefully her budget will be more than that.

Jose Cardenas: We'll see what happens. Let's talk now though about the Latino vote. We have some graphs we're going put up, some information regarding the Latino vote as recorded by an outfit called Latino decisions. Arizona is one of the first ones to put up, to talk about the turnout, and according to Latino decisions, we had in Arizona 85% of Latino vote went for Goddard, 78% for Glassman, and a 14% Latino turnout, which is actually historically high. Is it not?

John Loredo: Yeah, it is. And I think that was predictable. They did come out stronger than they ever have. The problem is, the rest of the Democratic base didn't come out as strong as it has. And with Independents swinging the other way, it wasn't enough to swing things the Democrats' way overall, but from a Latino perspective, there was a lot of energy in the air here. There was a lot of push back to the attacks coming out of the Republican caucus. And they came out and they voted. And I think they will probably continue to do so.

Jose Cardenas: And John had said earlier he thinks Latinos saved Grijalva, your take on the impact of Latino vote, nationwide it was 64%, 34% in favor of the Democrats.

Jaime Molera: I think it's always a mistake, and I've said this for years, to categorize Latinos as just being there to back the democrat candidates. I think you saw with Rubio, the new senator from Florida, the new governor of New Mexico, Martinez --

Jose Cardenas: And while you're talking, we'll put up the slide on the New Mexico Latino votes.

Jaime Molera: So you have a lot of individuals, a lot of individuals are starting to be courted by the Republican party because at least nationally they understand it is a growing segment and they're going to have to capture the Latino votes to be effective. Here in Arizona, let's face it, the immigration debate had a huge impact. A lot of Latinos are upset. So you -- I'm not sure if those numbers are accurate, but you would expect a huge turnout for Goddard at least.

Jose Cardenas: And we did just show in New Mexico it was 37% turnout by Latinos, 61% went for the Democrat, even though the winner was Hispanic. And they elected John Sanchez as Republican Lieutenant Governor. So big turnout, big chunk went for the Hispanic candidates, but -- rather went for the democrats, but the Hispanics won.

Jaime Molera: But if you look at the turnout in New Mexico, what would have happened if you had maybe just an Anglo Republican candidate as opposed to a Latino candidate? They were able to take a big chunk of their vote and capture those top two positions.

Jose Cardenas: We also have something on Colorado that we want to show. And there I think one of the interesting things is, 77% of the vote went for the Democrat, but 14% of the Latino vote went for Tom Tancredo, who is viewed as one of the most anti-immigrant politicians in the country. How do you explain that?

John Loredo: Well, I think for those home it wasn't about immigration. It was about other issues. Clearly they -- you poll Latino voters and I'm guessing there is a big issue, but so is public education. There are a lot of other issues. So it's predictable that you're going to have a chunk that prioritizes other issues beyond immigration.

Jaime MolerA: But there's some Latinos that I really believe are upset and they don't believe that we should have such poor voters. Enforcement and making sure the border secure is big in a lot of Latinos' agenda. Here in Arizona, the recent polls I've seen say they do want a secure border. They might disagree on some of the anti-immigrant bashing, but that issue comes across even amongst Latinos as something that they want to see happen.

Jose Cardenas: John, we've got about 30 seconds left on the show. I'm going give you the last word in terms of overall reflections on this election.

John Loredo: I think from a Latino perspective, it was big. I think Latino voters turned out the way that we hope they did. And I think that Latino voters here have embraced the Democratic Party, and they value the Democratic Party. The question is, whether or not head nothing redistricting the Democratic Party will value Latino voters as much as we value them.

Jose Cardenas: And that's the question we'll end our show on. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte."

John Loredo;Jaime Molera:Molera Alvarez Group;

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