How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The ten (or eleven) political races in which the Latino vote may count the most

Photo by Terry Chay/Flickr (Creative Commons)

At a polling place in San Francisco, November 2008

Because everyone loves a good list, here's an interesting one that the San Francisco Chronicle posted today on its politics blog: The 10 political races in which the Latino vote will be decisive this Nov. 2.

At the top of the list is the Nevada senate race, in which Democratic incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is running against Republican challenger Sharron Angle. Two California races also made the list, including the race for the 47th Congressional District in Orange County in which Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat, is up against Republican rival Van Tran, a Vietnamese-American member of the state assembly.

Also on the list is the California senate race. From the post:

Republican Carly Fiorina narrowly trails incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in the latest polls. Boxer is counting on strong support from the state's sizable Mexican-American population to put her over the top on Election Day. Boxer may benefit from a Latino backlash against Republicans following gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman's controversy over hiring — and firing — a housekeeper who was in the country illegally.

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In the news this morning: Muslim legislator targeted, the weight of the Latino vote, Whitman's new Spanish-language ad, more

Tea Party official points to Rep. Keith Ellison's worship of Islam as reason to vote against him - New York Daily News A Tea Party Nation leader has sent out a letter targeting Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Democrat who is a Muslim.

Latino Vote Will Make or Break the Democrats in 2010 - Huffington Post A pollster calls the Latino vote "probably the No. 1 issue in terms of whether Democrats retain the House."

Immigration reform from the grass roots - Los Angeles Times A take on a recent poll that showed nearly half of likely voters in California having a favorable view of immigrants, including those without papers.

Meg Whitman's New Spanish-Language Ad: I 'Stood Up Against The Arizona Law' - Huffington Post New ad makes last-minute appeal to Latino voters, telling them that Whitman "stood up against" Arizona's controversial SB 1070.

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Latinos enthusiastic about voting: A backlash?

Source: Latino Decisions

Have recent media reports about weak voter motivation among Latinos and last week's infamous "don't vote" ads - unaired television ads from a GOP-afiliated group telling Latinos not to vote - had the unexpected effect of whipping up enthusiasm among the Latino electorate?

The most recent in a series of weekly tracking polls from the Latino Decisions polling firm is showing a steadily growing number of Latinos who say they are "very enthusiastic" about voting in November. From the report:

For the fourth straight week, we find an increase in the percentage of Latino registered voters who report being very enthusiastic about voting in November 2010. Four weeks ago just 40.3% of Latinos said they were very enthusiastic, and today that figures reaches 58.3%. Self-reported turnout certainty remained constant at 75.1% from one week ago, up 10 point from four weeks ago.

As election day draws near, and early voting is in full swing, Latinos are reportedly showing more and more interest and enthusiasm. In response to the “don’t vote” campaign, Univision and Telemundo are both increasing their get-out-the-vote public service announcements, and Latino civic groups such as NALEO, NCLR, Mi Familia Vota and others are doubling their efforts to mobilize Latino voters down the stretch. With close statewide elections for Governor and U.S. Senate in nearly a dozen states with sizable Latino electorates, Latino voter turnout could make the difference in many of these contests.

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American snapshot: Lynwood

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Patrons posing with giant anthropomorphic food at Plaza Mexico, in Lynwood.

Tourists taking photos in the pedestrian zone of downtown Guanajuato? No, it's Plaza Mexico, the Mexican-themed, Korean-American-developed and owned shopping and entertainment complex in Lynwood, Calif. It's the closest thing I've seen to a Mexico theme park. I'm a fan.

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Haven't heard of State Question 755? Here's why you should

Photo by Chriszwolle/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A photo of an Oklahoma state highway map, February 2010

The Atlantic's politics editor Marc Ambinder wrote yesterday about an as-of-yet obscure "anti-Sharia law" initiative that has made it onto the Oklahoma state ballot, and how if it performs well with voters, we might see a series of similar initiatives used as a cultural wedge issue in other states. From the post:

Will anti-Sharia law initiatives be in future election cycles what anti-gay marriage initiatives were before? That is, a cultural wedge issue the GOP uses to ensure that hard-core conservatives enthusiastically flock to the polls?

If so, then Oklahoma is the proverbial canary in the coal mine for this type of initiative. One of 11 ballot initiatives in the state this November, State Question 755, better known as the "Save Our State" constitutional amendment, would prevent courts from using international or Sharia law. The question made it to the ballot by passing the state Senate 41-2 and the House 82-10. In addition to potentially rallying the conservative base to the polls, the initiative, which bans something that is nearly impossible statutorily, is worth watching because the GOP may employ it in swing states two years down the line.

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