Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Asian-American and Latino Vote

Here is an excellent and insightful post by Jeff Chang in the Huffington Post, "Why Latinos and Asian Americans Went for Hillary."
The reason Hillary won is because the Latino and Asian American votes remain emergent, not yet insurgent...

Early, she locked down important leaders in the Latino and Asian American communities. In Los Angeles, that meant securing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's support, and the predominantly Latino unions that have supported him. She also landed the support of Fabian Nunez and Dolores Huerta. In San Francisco, that meant seizing on Mayor Gavin Newsom's popularity amongst Asian Americans. She also captured a who's who of Asian American elected officials starting with Controller John Chiang and moving on down. Just as important, Hillary's campaign locked up a huge number of the leading Latino and Asian American party operatives--the people who actually deliver the voters.

All of them--from Villaraigosa to the Asian American precinct captain--were responding to what might be called aspirational politics. The individuals become proxies for the community. You hear them say in their campaigns, "When I win, you win." Clinton's main advantage is that she has the access to power and the party structures that deliver promises to officials and operatives. Obama doesn't. Emergent politics favors individuals seeking power. Think of it this way: Hillary, the woman candidate, is bringing Latino and Asian American leaders into the old-boy's network.

These leaders, in turn, deliver votes via their community's structures of power: business groups, labor unions, voter groups, community organizations. Those groups tend to deliver an older voter who is already "in the game", who can directly benefit from the opening of the old-boy's network. "Experience" really is a cover for "access".

Chang notes that younger Asian and Latino voters primarily went for Obama and were energized by his campaign. Chang's analysis is interesting to me in that he stresses the importance of old-style, top down patronage politics as a strategy in the Hillary camp--which can only be successful if you have long-term relationships and bases of support within specific populations. This is an interesting case study in the nuts and bolts of how an old-school political campaign is conducted.


Toure Zeigler said...

This is extremely interesting to me because I could not put my finger on how Hillary got so much of the Lation and Asain vote

Arn said...

I thought it would be important to list some of the well-known Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI)supporters of Barack Obama since some of HRC's supporters were mentioned in this blog. Here is the opening paragraph of a fundraising letter my wife and I send out to AAPI friends:

"Along with Norman Mineta, former Secretary of Commerce under President Clinton, Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Paul Igasaki, Former Vice Chair and Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Angela Oh, Former Member, President’s Initiative on Race, Professor Jerry Kang, UCLA Law School, actor Kal Penn, actress Kelly Hu, filmmakers Eric Byler, Annabel Park and Catherine Park, film producer Janet Yang and writers Maxine Hong Kingston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, we're working to change not only our country but the political process itself by supporting the Obama for President campaign."