If there is an elephant in the room that is the 2008 election, it is certainly not an elephant.
With the focus on Obama-centric Blacks, "hockey moms" and White working-class voters, the Hispanic vote has been the great unspoken story. Thought during the primary to be supporting Hillary due to acknowledged tensions between Blacks and Hispanics, our brown brothers have proven that it wasn't about that at all:
Polls show Sen. Barack Obama leading McCain 2 to 1 among Hispanics, after being trounced by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton among such voters in the Democratic primaries. (President Bush won 40 percent of their vote in 2004.) More than two-thirds of Hispanics said they trust Obama to handle the economy, compared with 27 percent who named McCain.
The McCain campaign seems to think that they can woo Hispanics with live-action mascots like "Tito the Builder" (not Bob's brother, contrary to what my godson might think). With "Joe the Plumber" officially on his 14th minute of fame, McCain and Palin actually have Tito Munoz going national. All that, apparently, is supposed to obscure the (R) next to McCain's name, and all that comes with it:
McCain seems to have wound up with the worst of both worlds: He appears to be getting no credit from Latino voters for his past support for immigration reform, while carrying the baggage of other Republicans' hostility to illegal immigration.
And he's been unable or unwilling to attack Obama—who was once thought to have taken a lethally liberal stance by supporting granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants—from the right.
So Obama not only has the better policy, but the better luck. Part of all of this is timing, no doubt. And that's fine with me:
The Hispanic vote could be decisive in Colorado, where the group makes up 12 percent of the electorate. Latino voters throughout the West feel empowered this year, particularly here and in New Mexico and Nevada, where their demographic growth and renewed political engagement have made them a force. The three states went for Bush four years ago but are now tossups or lean toward Obama. Most polls show Obama with a solid lead in Colorado.
He wins Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, y el partido sobre.
This sums it up:
Modesto Galvan, 55, a retired insurance agent in Grand Junction, is still disappointed that Clinton lost and considers himself a hesitant Obama supporter. "It took me awhile to vent," he said. "I voice my displeasure, but at the end of it I am a Democrat."
Even if he has lingering questions about Obama, Galvan said, "when people of color have to struggle so hard and so long, and you see someone aspiring to be the top person in this country, it is very difficult not to help them. We know how hard it is and how difficult it is. When we don't have people that look like us in positions of authority, we tend to lose."