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From Tea Party to Tequila Party?

Latinos are getting restless.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

March 26, 2011 - 12:00 am
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In the 2012 presidential election, Latinos might be so disgruntled with both parties that they could wind up craving a shot of tequila.

Inspired by how the Tea Party shook up the Republican establishment from the right, Latino activists are threatening to form a “Tequila Party” to challenge President Obama and the Democratic establishment from the left.

Right now, the idea exists only in theory. It’s been mentioned in articles and speeches, but there is no formal apparatus. Yet, among Latinos, there is a palpable amount of disillusionment with both political parties and especially with Democrats.

About 10 million Latino voters cast ballots in 2008. And with 500,000 new voters joining the rolls every year, as many as 12 million Latinos are expected to vote in 2012.

In every presidential election since 1960, the Democrat has won the majority of the Latino vote. But there’s more to the story. If Republicans get 35 percent or more, it’s usually enough to win the White House. Below 25 percent, they usually lose.

In the 2008 election, Obama was given a whopping 67 percent of the Latino vote. Yet, while in office, as far as many Latinos are concerned, he has fallen short of expectations.

According to a recent poll by ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions, President Obama’s job approval rating among Latinos is still at 70 percent. Yet only 43 percent of Latino voters are sure they will vote for him next year. One reason they give is Obama’s broken promise to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. This doesn’t translate into support for the GOP; only 9 percent said they would definitely vote for a Republican candidate, and another 8 percent said they might.

The question isn’t whether Latinos are going to defect to the GOP. It’s whether Latinos are so disappointed in Obama and the Democrats that they don’t vote at all. The White House can’t afford to let that happen.

For the first time in years, Latinos are in play because of a genuine anger at how both parties mistreat those voters.

Just listen to Robert DePosada, a Washington-based GOP political strategist. I asked him what he thought about the idea of Latinos forming a Tequila Party.

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