VOTE 2012: Election Returns and Analysis

More from this show

Horizonte’s post-election analysis of the Presidential election, national and state races, results of the Latino vote and more with: Alfredo Gutierrez, former state legislator and political consultant for Tequida and Gutierrez; Jaime Molera, political consultant with the Molera Alvarez Group; Chris Herstam, political analyst and former state lawmaker; and Professor Rudy Espino, assistant professor with Arizona State University’s Political Science Department.

Jose Cardenas: President Barack Obama was reelected to a second term in the White House, scoring victories in key swing states like Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Here to talk about presidential and state race and more are Jaime Molera, political consultant with the Molera Alvarez Group. Alfredo Gutierrez, former state lawmaker and political consultant for Tequida and Gutierrez. Chris Herstam, former state lawmaker and former chief of staff for governor Fife Symington, and with the Rudy Espino, assistant professor with the Arizona state University political science department. Gentlemen, welcome to "Horizonte" for our post-election analysis. Let's start at the presidential level and just kind Goff around the table to get initial reactions. Any surprise there?

Jaime Molera: No, unfortunately no surprise. I think as a Republican we were hoping to have a little better turnout in Florida, because polls are showing I think Romney until the last week was looking pretty good there. But he just needed to run the table. It was one of those things, they knew it had to be a perfect night, a perfect storm for Obama to lose, and unfortunately they just had a better ground game.

Jose Cardenas: Are you disappointed?

Chris Herstam: No, not really. I'm a lifelong registered Republican, but I'm hanging on by my fingertips. I'm so disappointed in the party. What we saw was the Obama --President Obama was able to duplicate what he did so successfully in 2008. He's just changed the whole Battle Ground --

Jose Cardenas:The predictions were he's not going to be able to do it again.

Chris Herstam: He couldn't put the coalitions together. Well, the greatest thing aboutthis election is the 18-29-year-olds came out again and basically the same numbers they did in 2008. That's a wonderful for the future. And Obama won even up to the 44-year-olds. That plus the minority populations, it's a coalition that's able to defeat Frankly the Republican party that is basically consists of aging white people, particularly males.

Jose Cardenas: I want to talk about the future of the Republican -

Chris Herstam: Obama only got 40% of the white vote in this election.

Jose Cardenas: Isn't that one of the differences between 2008 and this election, which is Obama lost ground, not that he had the majority, but he lost ground among male white voters, and independents.

Rudy Espino: Yeah, he did. But those male white voters, they're becoming a smaller share of the electorate. And this needs to be a wake-up call to the Republican party. If they have any hopes of seeking the White House again,they need to change their game plan.Now, back to the oral results from last night, Frankly, no surprises. The polls indicated that Obama would win, and we saw that transpire. As was already mentioned, 2008 was not a fluke. He was --Obama was able to replicate his success from 2008. Why were there questions that he would not be able to do so in 2012? A lot of economic indicators. Unemployment still really high. There's a lot of dissatisfaction with the economy. Yet in the face of that, Obama still was able to pull off success.

Jose Cardenas: Alfredo, we talked about the polls indicating one thing, but your fellow members of the punditOCACY were saying we might even have a repeat of the 2000 election which it was weeks before we had a decision.

Alfredo Gutierrez: I think what we're missing is how offensive the Republican rhetoric, the Tea Party rhetoric had become to just regular people, to Latinos to hear themselves described as dogs, for example, or working people being dismissed by Romney himself. There was a growing anger there. In the larger community that of the Obama campaign, which was superb, was able to weave together to maintain and to -- And to greatly energize. But I think that's when the punditocracy, that's what they missed. Because that isn't captured in polls. Nate silver captured in sterile terms what was going to happen, but he didn't capture the seething anger at this rhetoric.

Jose Cardenas: What do you think about that? There has been a lot of discussion today that some of the -- Whether they were well-intentioned or not, some of the measures Republicans did in terms of, for example, shortening the early voting in Florida, other measures that were designed to make it harder to vote, that that backfired and people resented it. And also the constant challenging of the president's birth, whether he was really an American and so forth, that all of that backfired.

Jaime Molera: I personally think it came down to basic issues. Romney didn't have a ground game like Obama did. Obama, when you look at the key Battle Ground states, do you to Ohio, Virginia, Florida, he had massive organizations in these states, and they broke it down by the key counties. They knew exactly how many votes they needed to get out in order to be effective.Romney didn't have a lot of that. One of the things Republicans need to understand is they do have to do better outreach. When you have 60% of whites voting for Romney, and you still can't win, I think that sends a signal. Every other minority group had over -- Close to 75% and above voting for Obama. And I think that's something the Republicans have to deal with. At the same time, I don't think they need to say, some of the rhetoric that was used, because rhetoric is thrown out on both sides. I think both sides are to blame for amping up some of the ugliness.

Chris Herstam: But Jose, this is why I'm so frustrated with my own party. It goes back to your original question. That is is, the Republican party has a concerted effort in state after state, tried to make it harder for the general public to vote. They want to depress the turnout and I find that extremely offensive in our system.

Jose Cardenas: They would say they're trying to prevent voter fraud.

Chris Herstam: But the numbers aren't there. The number of voter fraud is --Look what it did in Florida. Look what conservative Tea Party Republican Rick Scott and the Republican legislature did, they just eliminated a bunch of early voting days, and so you had people standing in line in Florida for five to seven hours on a Saturday before the election, trying to early vote. And that's appalling. Secretaries of state and governors, etc., legislators, should make it easier to turn out. You should have pride in a higher turnout. That's not what the Republican party is standing for, and it's such a basic foundation of our democracy. I can't understand how a party can survive doing things like that, and in fact, they won't.

Jose Cardenas: On that point, let me just interject. The suggestion was that even if Romney had won, this would have been the last time the Republicans would have won a presidential election, unless they changed their focus and enhanced their outreach efforts.

Alfredo Gutierrez: Look, I think that's true. That's absolutely obvious. The demographics of this country are real. You can deny them, as they denied climate change, but the fact of the matter is it's real. And it is going to over time change the face of this country. I believe in a very positive way, and obviously they're terrified of it. Let me go to this issue of the ground game. Republicans didn't have a ground game is the criticism, and clearly they didn't. But there's a reason for it. These are very smart people. They had a ground game, and it was to get out Latinos, what would be the outcome? A ground game aimed at working people. So they did have a ground game. Their ground game was to prevent minority voters, prevent young people from voting. They did it in Florida, in a variety of ways, they tried in Ohio, they passed laws in Pennsylvania. We have laws in Arizona that made it much more difficult, led to lines in provisional voting. All of this was done by Republican administration. That was their ground game. They indeed had a ground game. The ground game was to deny suffrage. The ground game was to deny the right to vote to minorities. And they lost. It backfired in every state they tried it. Perhaps not Arizona, but every other state that they tried it. It's backfired. People resent the transparency of it all.

Jose Cardenas: Let's talk about the impact of the Latino vote nationally.

Rudy Espino: Certainly in some key Battle Ground states it made a difference. Voters registering at the numbers they did that would not have gone for Obama. We saw that in 2008. The results were called early, we didn't have to wait for Colorado, Nevada last night. But there are other key Battle Ground states. Virginia, the growth of the Latino population around the Washington, DC suburb made a huge difference. And also the changing demographics of the Latino population in Florida. In the Orlando sector, made a huge difference. It's no longer that old Cuban population that fears Castro. It's a growing Puerto Ricoian -

Jose Cardenas: that traditionally voted Republican.

Rudy Espino: Right. It's shifting Democratic in Florida. One important question to ask is looking ahead --Does the Republican party stand a chance in court lag Tino vote? Or is all hope lost? I think all hope is lost if they continue to persist with their old play book of avoiding or actually denying comprehensive immigration reform. One of the primary concerns for Latino voters is the pass to immigration reform. And the reason why is so Latino voters who, they're U.S. citizens, why should they be concerned about immigration reform? So many of these voters are connected to somebody. They know somebody who is an undocumented citizen or somebody who is a dreamer. And Republican party can court that vote if they push for comprehensive immigration reform.

Jose Cardenas: And is it possible irony here that just like nixon was able to go to China, that Romney might have had more success in engineering a deal on immigration?

Jaime Molera: Possibly. But I would agree that the Republicans need to do a better job of finding out what their message is. Marco Rubio does an excellent job of explaining Republicans need to be for something. We need to be for a positive approach to how you deal with illegal -- Legal immigration. How do we make Visas easier for folks? How do we do guest worker programs? Instead of against something, people of color being here illegally. It's the tone, the rhetoric that does turn people off. There's no doubt about that. But I think the Republicans have an opportunity now, if they were to take up the mantle of governors like Sandoval of Nevada, Susannah Martinez of New Mexico, states that went to Obama, but they have a very strong, they're strong up and comers, Marco Rubio is another. But they have to listen and be willing to outreach.

Jose Cardenas: Before we go to the state elections of Arizona, one other thing on the national level. Big surprise is that the democrats not only held on to the senate, but that they actually improved their numbers there.

Chris Herstam: Yeah. That's just a case of the Tea Party and the extreme right of the Republican party knocking off quality centrist type Republicans that could have easily won. For instance, Indiana, Richard Luger, an experienced, well-liked Republican in Indiana, could have won in the general election very easily. But they end up knocking him off the Tea Party, and this goes back to what were you saying, and that is, the problem is what I think the Republican party needs more of is political backbone. Some folks with some political courage to hang in there and go for pathways to citizenship, without being scared of getting knocked off in their own Republican primaries. It's that threat that makes john McCain and Jeff flake have to veer to the right in their primaries, and basically walk away from the issue. As long as you have people doing that within the Republican party, as consistently as you do, they're never going to get a handle on this and they'll continue to have to rely on aging white guys.

Jose Cardenas: Let's go to the state elections and talk about flake's surprisingly to some people, easy victory over Carmona.

Alfredo Gutierrez: I've said it before on this program, one of the wonderments here was to what degree has the Mormon community not been represented historically in elections? Because this was pretty clear for a very long time, that if Mitt Romney were the nominee, there was going to be a huge effort in Arizona, it was -- And it was -- It was phenomenal. I suspect that any polling of the Mormon community would show incredibly high numbers of turnout, 90%. Extraordinary numbers. And it overwhelmed, I think, in any opportunity for Carmona. I was concerned about that throughout this. One hope was that the latino community in Arizona would vote at least the level of the larger community. And in this instance appeared to be 75%. That does not seem to have happened. So you didn't have that counter balance, and so he went down to the -- I think the biography was terrific, I think the campaign was -- He was outspent, but it was a pretty great campaign. He was a great candidate, but nonetheless, he was just overwhelmed.

Jose Cardenas: Rudy, your analysis of the latino vote in Arizona.

Rudy Espino: With respect to that senate race, I think it was much closer in the final month than a lot of people anticipated. If you look at polling over the summer, the gap was huge for flake. It looked like he was going to coast to victory. But it tightened up toward the end, in part because Carmona got his name out after the primary election. He came out attacking hard and he got big endorsements, from bill Clinton. And so with bill Clinton coming to town every once in a while, I think that helped Carmona close that gap between flake. But as he said, it was not enough to overcome that gap.

Jose Cardenas: Some suggestions that the numbers were as close as they were, even though it turned out not to be that close, because flake was not the seasoned campaigner, at least at this level that his predecessor Kyl --

Jaime Molera: Senator Kyle was a very adept and about organization and put -- But the one thing that I would say about the flake-Carmona race, Carmona was an exceptional candidate. I think he'll have a future in this state, maybe for governor in a few years. But flake was a good candidate too. And I think candidates matter. And if we were to have a very right wing extreme Republican candidate that was thrown up there, I think Carmona could have won this thing. I think it would have been very difficult to beat. Flake had a great reputation, and even with the latino community, that he wasn't an extreme person when it came to immigration reform. So I think all of that helped Jeff ultimately to get the senate seat, and I think -

Jose Cardenas: The controversy over the robo calls to democrats --

Jaime Molera: a lot was made of it at the end of the day, that it was deliberate. I don't think it was deliberate, I think it was sloppy work on the flake campaign part to make sure what they were doing was actually going to Republicans, making sure the addresses they gave were going to places that were not the prior district after the redistricting. I just think it was sloppy.

Chris Hertsam: I want to totally agree with JAiME. I think the democrats would be crazy if they do not try to seriously talk rich Carmona into running for governor in 2014. The money that came in from outside federal -- You know, PACs and so forth, to lambast Carmona was because that senate seat was so important for the national Republican party to hang on to it. I think the dynamic changes a lot with a governor's race, and I think Carmona, his name, I.D., and everything is now in place. I think in his resume is known more, I think he would have a major impact, certainly in the Democratic primary, and it would be a formidable candidate in a general election for governor. Jose Cardenas: Chris, another Mormon on the ballot of some prominence and well-liked in the Hispanic community, Jerry Lewis went down to defeat.

Chris Hertsam: It's a tragedy from my perspective, because this was the guy that had the guts, that stood up to Russell Pearce and the recall election, that forged that coalition of not only Republicans, but democrats andindependents in that recall election. And thumped Russell Pearce very well. And then because of redistricting, he's thrown into this Democratic district, but it's still a district with over 40% registered independents. But I was personally hoping that the independents in particular, and enough democrats, would want to say thank you to Jerry Lewis for standing up to Russell Pearce and keep him in the state senate. But it was a very solid Democratic district, and there was just no way he could overcome those numbers.

Jose Cardenas: Rudy, the Arpaio race, sheriff Arpaio united Hispanics is probably few other people could. Yet he coasted to an easy victory. What happened there?

Rudy Espino: Cash on hand. He just raised upwards of almost $8 million, a lot of which he spent on a lot of campaign ads here in Arizona. For a county sheriff, let me just say, $8 million for a county sheriff. 80% from out of state. That's the big thing. He calls himself America's sheriff. And for good reason apparently. He's getting a lot of outside money. That's insurmountable. Penzone came up with $600,000. That's tough to fight. Latino voters are united to get Arpaio out of office, but it's in Maricopa County, the plurality of voters are still Republican. That will change, and how long can -- How much longer can Arpaio be around, anyway?

Jose Cardenas: He's planning on running next time.

Chris Hertsam: That's what we hear. He'll only be 84.

Jose Cardenas: We had some discussion off camera, and you're disappointed in the latino voter turnout in Arizona.

Alfredo Gutierrez: Clearly --Let me begin with a caveat. That is that there's 400,000 to 500,000 uncounted votes in Arizona. Provisional votes, early votes that have not yet been counted. So once that's done, that may change these percentages. But talking about the numbers as they exist, Sabin ran four years ago, he was wildly outspent, not at 20-1, but seven or eight to one. He had no enthusiasm, no major organizations, no independent latino PACs as citizens for better Arizona, Arpaio promised Arizona, etc. There were several organizations on the ground, superb, tremendous work by -- Superb, tremendous work by these folks. The most sophisticated work I've seen since 1968. And you know what? The percentages ended up precisely the same. That is, Sabin's percentage to penzone, pen zone was -- It makes you wonder, it makes you wonder whether in fact we have been able to increase the percentage of latino voters, have we been able to increase the promise of the latino community? The promise is clear. We keep registering and registering people, that universe keeps growing. We keep having babies, they keep growing up, they're 19, they're ready to rock and roll. But they don't vote. And apparently they don't grow into voting. So that is -- That is one of the sort of great challenges. We seem not to have been able to convert those numbers into voters, even voters defending clearly their own self-interests.

Jose Cardenas: Is Arizona different in that regard, then, in terms of the importance of the latino vote as compared to the rest of the nation? Everybody is saying the Republican party has to make greater outreach to latinos, but are they safer as a -- Is the Republican party safer in Arizona in that regard?

Jaime Molera: You have to remember, Arizona still has a huge preponderance of Republicans over democrats, to the tune of 175,000. UnLike the rest of the nation. So it's a very hard, red state. However, I think the Republicans at their peril will start to see themselves in tighter races. You're witnessing --

Jose Cardenas: in Arizona.

Jaime Molera: Look at the congressional races. We have a number of congressional races that were extremely tight that the Republicans are -- We might only win one in those races as it stands right now.

Jose Cardenas: Might even lose all three.

Jaime Molera: Might even lose all three. So you're starting to see that happen. I would agree the latino vote has been underperforming for many, many years. But it's starting to happen. And I think if the Republicans are saying, well, we got a game plan we can just rely on the Angle voters to come out, the Mormon population come out, you're going to see that at their peril.

Jose Cardenas: About a month ago on this show people were talking about Arizona going purple in the nottoo distant future, and precisely because of the latino vote. Do you think that is still an accurate prediction?

Rudy Espino: I think -- I think it can happen four years, definitely eight years out. We might be the next Colorado, Nevada, that people are talking about on election night. The reason being is changing demographics. That older whiter population will be dying out, that younger Latino population is going to be moving up and registering to vote. I do think that's a possibility eight years out. Another thing to keep in mind is that in some ways 2008 and 2012 are anomalies. 2008 you have native son effects with John McCain. To a certain extent you have Mitt Romney. We already talked about the Mormon vote here. There's certain native son effect there's too. Let's look at 2016, 2020, I think we're moving in that direction.

Chris Hertsam: Can I ask a question? I have heard that --

Jose Cardenas: that's my job.


Chris Hertsam: I've heard that the -- Part of the problem in Arizona with the latino turnout is that because we're a right-to-work state the lack of power of the unions, and for instance in Nevada, the service industries are so huge. And so a lot of your latinos, etc., are plugged more into the union and that helps get the vote out more. Is that true?

Rudy Espino: Labor unions play more critical role in Nevada than they do here in Arizona. But look at Colorado. It doesn't have the union impact that Nevada does. And that's trended blue. I think one of the big issues that has happened with latino vote is the way our districts are gerrymandered, you have very high concentrations of latino votes, because a lot of latino leaders want that. But they don't go out and get them to vote. They don't have to work to get them to vote.

Jaime Molera: I've always said that if we were to have a more dispersed latino population that were more proportional to the districts so the Angelo voter, the Angelo politician would have to work for them as hard as the politician -- Latino politician, that would be a better outcome. Since we have the districts that are so gerrymandered to makesure they're latino --and that the justice department will approve. That has a huge impact.

Jose Cardenas: That's going to be the last word. Gentlemen thank you for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about what was a very interesting election. We'll see what happens four years from now when sheriff Arpaio is running again. That is our show for this Thursday evening. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I'm Jose Cardenas. Have a good night.

Alfredo Gutierrez:Former State Legislator and Political Consultant, Tequida and Gutierrez; Jaime Molera:Political Consultant, Molera Alvarez Group; Chris Herstam:Political Analyst and Former Ftate Lawmaker; Rudy Espino:Assistant Professor, Arizona State University Political Science Department;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
airs April 18

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: