"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Monday, November 24, 2008

"And the Survey Says...."

Fidel “Butch” Montoya

The National Institute for Latino Policy just recently completed a survey on what the Obama victory may mean to the Latino community. With over 950 responses from Latino leaders from across the United States, the National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey (NLOLS) gives some interesting insight as to what the Latino community is expecting from the Obama administration for lending its support during the election.

While the survey was not a scientific poll, the fact that close to a 1000 Latino leaders took part in the survey should not mean the poll does not adequately represent the general mood in the Latino community at this point in time.

Seventy eight percent of the Latinos surveyed believe the election of Obama as President is “a good thing” for our community. Only four percent felt it was “a bad thing.” There was a large percentage, eighteen percent of those surveyed, who felt they were not sure or did not know.

However, the NLOLS survey also raised some interesting issues that Obama must address if he is to keep the honeymoon mood alive with the Latino community. For example, Latino leaders “are skeptical of the Obama transition and the Democratic Party responsiveness to the Latino community.”

When asked if the Obama transition team was including strong Latino leaders in the transition process, “only twenty two percent said yes. Thirty three percent said no, and forty six percent were not sure of did not know.”

An interesting point of discussion that must be addressed by the national Democratic leadership is to just assume that they have the Latino voter locked up and end up taking the Latino vote for granted. There are some serious misgivings by the Latino leaders who answered the survey.

Fifty three percent of Latino opinion leaders “felt that the Democratic Party was not being responsive to the needs of the Latino community, compared to twenty one percent who felt it was being responsive.”

Even though Latino voters gave their overwhelming support to the Democratic Party and President-elect Obama, a majority of the survey participants believe the Party has a long way to go before Latino leaders will give the party leadership a blank check when it comes to addressing issues important to Latino voters.

There is plenty of interesting data when it comes to identifying the top priority issues for the Latino community. The economy was one of the top issues Obama must address according to seventy five percent of the opinion leaders in the Latino community. This issue included the need for more jobs and strong leadership to break the cycle of poverty faced by Latino families.

It was especially noteworthy to find that the participants of the NLOLS survey did not feel “that the issues of racism, voting rights, housing, or US relations with Latin America needed to be a priority for the Obama Administration.”

I believe more research and in depth discussion is necessary before we simply accept this data, particularly when it comes to racism and immigration, housing and high foreclosures in the Latino community. I would agree that much has been done to register more Latino voters, and because of the educational process taken to increase Latino voters, most Latinos are up to speed when it comes to voting rights.

The top priority issues identified by Latino leaders that must be addressed by the Obama Administration start with immigration (twenty percent), the economy (twenty percent), education (seventeen percent), and seventeen percent said “the same as those for the country in general.”

When it comes to addressing comprehensive immigration reform, eighty four percent “do not believe or are not sure”, that Obama will introduce any immigration reform legislation in his first 100 days. However, sixty-nine percent are very hopeful and believe that Obama will call for “a moratorium on immigration raids,” with thirty percent saying they do not believe it will happen in the first 100 days.

Interestingly enough, the survey asked if immigration was the most important issue facing the Latino community. Fifty-eight percent disagreed that it was the most important, with only thirty-six percent who thought it was the most important issue.

While the survey has more information on other issues of the day, there is one important issue I believe facing our community warrants further discussion. The issue of Black-Latino relations during the elections was always a point of contention by the news pundits and commentators and what affect they felt it would have on the election.

Several polls and exit polling demonstrated that Latinos voted in large numbers for Obama, however, seventy-one percent of the survey participants felt Black-Latino relations were “only fair or poor.” Two percent believed relations were “excellent,” and twenty-five percent said they were “good.”

The NLOLS survey has more information and is worthwhile reading to get a glimpse at what Latino opinion leaders from across the United States believe. The survey helps to put many issues facing our community in perspective and can be helpful in developing strategies to move forward, and most importantly, the survey gives each of us an idea where we stand nationally in relationship to other Latino community members in our country.

For more information, contact Angelo Falcon, the President and Founder of National Institute for Latino Policy. editor@latinopolicy.org

Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light – Latino Faith Initiative

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