Latinos in all shapes, sizes and colors even red and blue

"Pregunta del Dia by Esther J. Cepeda"

"Pregunta del Dia" translates from Spanish into Question of the Day and today’s comes from Rick M. a Lake County reader who messages:

Q. Esther, no one is talking about the Hispanic vote. Are they for Obama or McCain? Are they registering in droves or staying away from the ballot? What gives? I want to know.

A. Well, Rick, here's the thing – who are they?

Let’s just assume you mean only eligible and registered Hispanic voters. That number was about 16 million back in 2004, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, let’s throw their estimated 20 percent plus some change on top of that and settle on 19.5 million for this November.

Let’s make things easy and ignore the key battleground states Pew has identified: Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada (Illinois has tons of Hispanics but only 8 percent of them are eligible to vote and they’re presumed to be voting for the local boy).

So of the 19.5 million Latinos, how do you target the "Latino vote?"

Do you target the newly-naturalized citizens who are single-mindedly aware of each candidate’s immigration stances? And do you do that in English or in Spanish?

Or do you go for the U.S. born Hispanics…ahhh but not so fast – are they Cuban-descended and heavily Republican or Puerto Rican-born and mostly Democratic but both totally bilingual and bi-cultural?

Let’s go with the English-fluent for a moment: are they first-generation and highly committed to immediate comprehensive immigration reform for extended family or are they second/third generation and more concerned about the war, health care and social security for when they retire, and the ailing education system?

How many of them are well-educated and affluent and concerned mostly with Presidential platforms revolving around globalization, our foreign policy, and economic policies?

How many, despite recency of "Americanization" or socio-economic status, care about business as priority number one because regardless of what household income slice you look at, Latinos are entrepreneurial through and through?

Campaigns have tough calls to make from whether to highlight the strong female (there are many woman presidents in Latin American countries) or target soccer lovers vs. baseball fanatics? Does Daddy Yankee’s endorsement of John McCain trump’s Obama lovin’?

Seriously, though, some of us were mad that Obama totally ignored visiting the Latin American countries to do his "Look How Presidential I Am" tour of the Middle East a few months back.

Some of us cringe at McCain’s comments characterizing Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia and Cuba's Raul Castro as "autocrats more interested in wielding power than helping their people" because even though that might be true, snarky comments aren’t going to help our countries to get along any better.

Some of us weren’t going to make a decision based on immigration but now that the unprecedented U.S. raids are uncovering horrific labor exploitation of women and children in major companies – like the Agriprocessors Plant in Postville, Iowa – and U.S born Latinos are getting hassled and even detained in raids in increasing numbers, it’s gut check time.

Last week the Pew Hispanic Center reported that 50 percent of all Latinos say that the situation of Hispanics in this country is worse now than it was a year ago, and a majority worry about deportation. I can tell you I certainly do, and I was born here and have all legal permanent resident family members, but that seems to matter little these days.

The bottom line is that the candidates’ campaigns won't successfully get their hands around the "Latino Vote" because it's elusive – just like the Hispanic population itself, with its multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-geographical concentration, and various socio-economic statuses.

There’s no magic Spanish slogan – "Si se puede" sucks – that will unite and deliver us all in a nice, neat package come Election Day.