thumbnail of Focus; Hispanic Voter Project
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
This morning we'll be talking in this part of the show a little bit about Latinos about their attitudes and their political participation. This is kind of a companion to a program that we did yesterday where we ask some similar kind of questions about Asian-Americans we wanted to spend a couple of hours taking a look at these two major groups of Americans to talk about just how involved they are how engaged they are in politics and how important their participation is to American politics. And our guest for this hour of the show is Adam Siegel. He is director of the Hispanic voter project which is based at Johns Hopkins University. This is an effort to try to get an idea of just the kind of things that we're talking about here. Political participation attitudes the issues that are particularly important to Latinos. And just what sort of a force they are now and will continue to be in American politics. That's what we're doing here in the first part of the show. Questions of course are welcome. If you would like to call in the number if you're here in Champaign Urbana where we are 3 3 3 9 4 5 5.
We do also have a toll free line. And that one is good anywhere that you can hear us. If you're listening or on the Illinois and Indiana over the air of course you can use the toll free and if you might happen to be listening on the Internet as well. You can use that as long as you're in the United States. That number is 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. So again 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 here in Champagne Urbana. We do also again have that toll free line that's 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5 and at any point here you want to join the conversation. You certainly should feel welcome to do that. Mr. Siegel Hello. How are you good morning. I'm fine thanks and thanks very much for talking with us. But you want to just say for for take a moment to talk a bit about the expanding Voter Project and what it's all about. Sure. The spending Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University is a research project that was founded in 2002. The research began really in earnest in 2000 and we
focus on the ways that candidates parties and interest groups reach out to and communicate with Hispanic voters. And not only do we research and report on those efforts but we're also very proactive and encourage the campaigns to make Hispanic outreach a higher priority than it has been in the past. And we encourage the campaigns especially at the presidential level but of course all campaigns political campaigns to make Hispanic staff members Hispanic advertising specialists and policy folks a higher part of the campaign structure. And we really we really do that because the more that Hispanics are involved with the inner workings of a campaign the better that that campaign can reflect the needs of the community and better understand how to communicate with this growing voting population.
You know one of the things that is very obvious is that it seems that both parties and both campaigns think that this time around that. Latinos are going to be very important to the outcome at least if you look at the amount of money that they're spending trying to reach out to Latinos that seems to be obvious from some of the numbers that I've seen. The together apparently the Bush and Kerry campaigns have spent this time around 13 million dollars on Spanish language media. Back in 2000 the two campaigns only spent four million dollars. So obviously that increase in spending says that they think that Latinos are important and they're trying to get their message out to them. Do you think that they will turn out to Latinos will turn out to be a big factor in this election. Well I think first of all that you're right on. We have we have been analyzing the efforts this year and we're finding record spending on Spanish language political advertising aimed at Hispanic voters particularly in a
handful of key battleground. States and in four out of the 10 most targeted battleground states the ones that are up for grabs Literally right now a few days before the election. Hispanic voters in four of those 10 have a real opportunity to influence the entire outcome of that of the race and in that state. And those are Florida New Mexico Nevada and Colorado. And I think there are lots of other battleground states where if it comes down to a few hundred or a few thousand votes Hispanic voters can make the difference and you know one example of of one place like that would be Ohio and another one would be Pennsylvania which both have rapidly growing Hispanic populations but that aren't anywhere near the 15 20 or even 40 percent of the population in a number of the other battlegrounds. It's and I'm convinced that record numbers of Hispanic voters will turn out this year. And two things give me that impression. One is that each
election cycle over the last 20 years we've seen a rapid increase of Hispanic voters that have participated. And this year we have seen a truly historic effort to register new Hispanic voters. And even since 2000 there's been a dramatic increase the number of Hispanic Americans who are registered to vote then I guess that was indeed one of the things that I was interested in hearing about and whether you had particularly when you have some numbers if you take a look at say first of all how many Latinos there are how many of them are are eligible to vote because obviously citizenship is an issue and that of the people who are eligible how many of those are registered. And indeed I guess I'm wondering how when you look at numbers of registered voters whether what we see if you compare what's happening today with what things were looking like it in into.
Well across the country there are more than 14 million Latinos or Hispanic Americans. And this year interestingly enough Hispanic Americans became came to comprise the largest minority population in this country for the first time. More Hispanics than African-Americans in this country. So all of the of the more than 14 million adult U.S. citizens that are Hispanic about 8 million maybe even 9 million are registered to vote. Perhaps perhaps more. And the actual voters. Well we look back to 2000 and six million Hispanics voted in that election. And I think every indication. From even the most conservative sources you know those those least likely to jump ahead or try to seek to you know try to exploit the growth of this community. I suggest that as much as seven
maybe even eight million Hispanic voters could turn out to the polls this year. Well that's still well when you take a look at the turnout of registered voters. So if you look about what happened last time if you're saying that there are eight million possibly as many as nine million registered and 6 million vote voted Well that's a pretty good turnout rate then you'd still have to look at the issue of if there were 14 if there are 14 million adult U.S. citizens who are Latino and 8 million 9 million of the outside are registered then maybe also you want to ask well what why are those other people not registered. Why are they not ready. I think that I really I really believe that there's a lag time that's really unique to the Hispanic community. And I think it's it begins the it begins where there's a lag time between when new immigrants become citizens and when new citizens eventually register to vote. You know not
every new citizen registers to vote the day that they become a new citizen. And so there's a lag time there. And then there's further lag time between when a new voter becomes a long term committed voter. And I think that that's that's part of the you know I think that's part of the immigrant experience in this country and it's also it's also part of of a population that still has not fully come to recognize just how important every single Hispanic vote can make across the country I think. Certainly the 2000 election helped. There was a recognition that had the Gore campaign paid more attention to Hispanics in let's say Miami Florida where they where they spend zero on Spanish language TV ads and were blown away by the Bush campaign would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars there. That certainly you know even a modest effort there could have helped them attract the five hundred and thirty eight
votes that would have given them a one vote advantage. And so I think the reality is that an education and get out the vote effort has to be combined with a voter registration effort potential voters need to be educated about how their vote can have an impact and how the vote how the votes of their community has had an impact. Let me again just very quickly reintroduce the guest for this hour we're talking with Adam Segal He is director of the Hispanic voter project based at Johns Hopkins University at the university's Washington Center for the Study of American government in Washington D.C. The goal of the project and to draw attention to the growing political importance of the nation's Hispanic-American voters and also to look at efforts being made by political parties and candidates and interest groups to reach these voters. Questions are welcome 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Toll free 800 to 2 2
9 4 5 5. I'm interested in having you talk a bit about how it is that when you go out and you try to sample Latino and you ask them questions about first of all about their their inclination to identify with one of the other political parties. Yeah. What it is that you find. Well there have been a number of broad national polls of Hispanic Americans this year. It's been a wonderful year for for for those efforts and we're finding across the board that Hispanics are registered with it with a Democratic advantage of about two to one. But there is a significant number of Hispanics that are they consider themselves to be independents and that number is growing. And what that tells us is that Hispanic voters are increasingly up for grabs as more and more become you know less affiliated or less biased by a
connection to a party. It presents an opportunity especially for the Republicans who really have for for many years had not considered Hispanic voters part of their their effort to expand the base of the party. Well it seems that for a long time among Hispanics the the most reliable supporters of the Republican Party the people who are most likely to say when you ask them Are you Democrat Republican or Independent. The ones that are the most likely to say they're Republicans have been Cuban-Americans. And in a clear clearly their attitudes are very very clearly influenced by their feelings about this about American policy on Cuba. Right. And I think that that continues to be the case. But I also have this feeling that that may in some small way be changing and that has something to do with perhaps generational change as we have greater numbers of Cuban
Americans who are born in the United States who perhaps may have some some differences in their attitudes on that issue particularly differences between them and say their parents or their grandparents. It is. Is that is the is the the general sort of Cuban-American identification as Republican support for Republicans particularly for a really kind of a tough policy in regards to Cuba. It is that has that stayed fairly constant. Or are there any ways in which that might be changing somewhat. Well it's a great question and it's it's one that is the focus of a lot of articles in national newspapers this week and probably will be up through Election Day and and and afterwards. And that is trying to understand whether they're trying to discern if there is any significant shift within the Cuban-American voting population. Favor the
Democrats. And the reality is that we already know of one huge example of what can happen when a Democratic candidate can run an aggressive campaign aimed at courting Cuban-American voters and using either a record or a policy proposal that would that would be tough on you know tough on Castro and tough on on foreign policy dealing with Cuba. And that was Bill Clinton's reelection campaign in 1906. And we know for certain that Clinton received thousands of votes that had previously gone in 1902 to former President Bush. But he was able to convert those voters to two that the Democratic Party line largely on a strong domestic policy but also because he was able to blur the differences between he and
Senator Bob Dole during that election on Cuba policy. And it was really unfortunate for the Democrats that in the 2000 in the 2000 campaign that Vice President Gore was was so much aligned with the ele and Gonzales affair and the Clinton administration's handling of that effort. And and also was was hurt significantly by the aggressive courting of the Cuban community by the Bush campaign and a very tough line on Cuba. But we're finding right now that the Democrats are again now I guess eight years later willing to engage this community in a way that it never has done before. Groups like the New Democrat Network are airing Spanish language and English language TV and radio and print ads aimed directly at Cuban voters even mentioning Castro and mentioning Bush's
policies in their advertisements. And the Kerry campaign has also been very aggressive airing Spanish language radio ads on popular Cuban radio programs or during popular Cuban radio programs that include direct critiques of the Bush administration's Cuba policy and that even goes so far as to suggest that the Kerry administration will be tougher on Cuba then than the Bush administration and that. That's a fascinating strategy and I can't wait to see what the results are. I really believe that it's an uphill battle for Democrats to try to capture a significant percentage of the Cuban-American vote. And. And you know I think that that will take a long time if they will ever achieve that. But this year it's possible that the Democrats can peel away a few hundred or a few thousand votes
maybe one or two or three percentage of the Cuban vote and that could make all the difference in a very tight election where the outcome of the statewide results in Florida come down to only a few hundred or a few thousand votes as they did in 2000. And so comparatively if you compare to a few hundred votes two to the strong support that Bush has received in the past it's not doesn't appear to be such a big deal. But in in a hyper intensive election hyper close election it can make all the difference and it could be worth every penny for the Democrats. Well I guess though it's still in. What I have read about just about the state of Florida there. If you poll Hispanics and ask them we're going to vote for Kerry going to vote for Bush. Overall Bush still gets more Hispanic votes. But that and that though that does seem
to be explained mostly by support of Cuban Americans. Because if Also I think if you look at it for example I think in in 2000 Hispanic voters in central Florida actually supported Gore although they also supported Bush. So I guess that that again has strategists looking at that and saying well here's a here's a group of people who could basically go one way or another. But going back to the original point it it does seem to be that Florida Hispanics generally seem to be Republicans and seem to be supporting the president. But a lot of that does have to do in fact with with Cuban Americans and it's not the it's not the case. If you look at other places where you don't have that kind of breakdown according to country of origin. I agree with that. And I think that I think that a lot of you know with with the demographic shift that's happening across the country with the growth of the Hispanic community it's a question not only for
politicians but for marketers trying to understand marketers and advertisers who are trying to understand exactly what makes the average Hispanic-American tick. You know what makes them voted a certain way of what makes them purchase a certain product. And because so much money is invested in these efforts a lot of money is also invested in the research behind it. And I think that in the coming years we'll find a lot of sociological research that digs deep into the demographics of the Hispanic community the rapidly changing expanding community and Florida. And I think we'll come to realize that that this is a population that is changing and extremely diverse and it's not monolithic you know. Well overall I think that that the point should be made. We I think it's in other times when I've been talking with people on this program about Latino and in their politico. Participation and also we've talked a bit about this yesterday with yesterday's
guest we're talking about sort of doing a similar kind of program talking about Asian-Americans. Is that you have to be really careful about seeing these these large blocks of people as large blocks as as monolithic because it is the case that it seems to be something that a way in which perhaps the immigrant experience is changing somewhat in the United States is that people still maintain very strong identification with their country of origin. Certainly they're very very interested in American politics but they're also still in touch with the politics of the of the place from which they came. And now the world being as it is it's easier to maintain contact it's easier to go back and forth and that people still have this very strong this very strong sense that for example when we're talking about Latinos or Hispanic whatever kind of words you want to use that people have maybe less tendency to identify themselves that way with that kind of global term as they do to say I am a Mexican. I'm a
Cuban-American. I'm a Puerto Rican American. You know whatever to really make a point of saying this. This is what I am and this is where I came from. So I'm still I am still in a sense sort of both of this I am an American but but I have this strong tie I get to the place where I'm from where I come. And that can also I make a difference in people's attitudes about things and how they think. And as we have discussed it it can even have an impact on how it is you identify politically. Yeah I definitely agree I think that I think that part of part of the intense focus on groups comes out of comes out of you know a cultural tendency to try to be able to characterize people and characterize them in a way that we can understand them. Without having to dig too deeply or without having to know too many people without having to read too much. So in a sense it is overly simplistic
to to use terms like Hispanic and Latino unless we're being very specific about exactly what that term encompasses. And there are even debates over whether Hispanics in certain regions or certain cities prefer the term Hispanic over Latino or disregard both and prefer like you said to say that I'm a Mexican-American or Puerto Rican American or a Guatemalan American and it's it's an interesting thing to say but nevertheless in immigrant communities even aware. Hispanic immigrants tend to reside in neighborhoods that might reflect their home country. You'll find that a huge Hispanic festival that happens in that community draws from the entire Hispanic community and it draws because there are lots of things like language music culture food
that sort of cross boundaries that cross national boundaries at least in terms of national background or national identity. That's based in Latin America and one that in America can and can not as much melt these communities together but allow immigrants to to find some shared identity as a way of of you know being more successful in this country. When you just out of curiosity if you take a look at the breakdown of people according to their place of origin what are they. The leading the leading place if you look by numbers you know how does that break down. Well by far the largest population in the US is or is Mexican-American. And
you know most almost almost the entire Southwest you know even even from California you know through Colorado Arizona New Mexico Nevada. The communities there are almost entirely Mexican American. But in other parts of the country like Florida and New York you'll see a much more diverse population. Oftentimes when we talk about Hispanics we even leave out the millions of Puerto Rican Americans that you know whose whose you know family origin put them in. In Puerto Rico which of course is part of the United States and part of the reason why in terms of you know in terms of how the demographers work why they're often left out of that accounting.
But I don't I don't have the exact numbers for you in terms of other breakdowns of other of other communities. I could I could pull it up in a second. Well that's I don't. I don't know how important that is in the greater scheme of things but I guess that was one thing that was just a little bit curious about it. Certainly to look at them with the top three or four maybe would be according to where it is that they came from. And I think it makes sense and you know there are lots of reasons you know for instance if you're using a performing artist who is going to perform and at an event for Hispanic voters in a certain city and you don't do enough research it's possible that you could bring in a performing artist who isn't entirely unknown in one segment or one group of Hispanic-Americans but can be well-known in in others. One of the most popular American one of the most popular performing artists in the country our name is Paulina Rubio. She's she's Mexican you know performing
artist. And you know part of her a part of a rise has been her ability to crossover not only into mainstream America but also the crossover into pop popular culture within other Hispanic communities. But there are others who haven't who haven't been successful at doing that. And even politicians as you know if you're having a bus tour and you bring in you bring the mayor of Hialeah Florida on this bus tour he happens to be a Cuban-American Democrat. But will his message resonate with other with another community with let's say a Puerto Rican community or another community a Mexican-American community and that's it really depends on the individual It depends on the situation. Another good one is the governor of New Mexico. His his one of his parents is a Mexican-American.
And. And so it would seem to be a natural that he could take he would appeal as a Hispanic governor and I think he wanted to run for president they could appeal to Mexican-Americans. But is he as popular would the appeal be the same to other Hispanics who might have a different experience. Well we're a little bit past our midpoint here I have a caller and other people who are listening certainly are welcome to call in with questions and let me again introduce our guest We're talking with Adam Siegel. He's director of the Hispanic voter project at Johns Hopkins University. It's based at the university's Washington Center for the Study of American government in Washington D.C. And they're particularly interested in drawing attention to the growing political importance of the nation suspending American voters and also to look at efforts by the political parties and by individual candidates and by interest groups to reach out to these voters and we're talking about them about attitudes. Participation by Hispanic Americans. Questions are welcome 3 3 3 9 4 5
5. Toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. We have a caller here someone calling from a Savoy nearby. Line number one. Hello. Hello yes oh hi I just wanted to make a comment that the breakdown of ethnic groups into the general to call them sub ethnic groups or not is is extremely important. I think one of the problems that has happened. This sounds a little strange. It is if you go anywhere in this country I'm going to allow you to I spend aggressed out of a Mexican restaurant. It's been a module I used. And it's very hard particularly here we have a very big expanding community to be able to distinguish between different types of Hispanic Americans tend to think well do all the same because they will be the same food when in fact they don't. But it's sort of
what they wanted the Chinese food was basically never Chinese food in this country but was an American version and went all the way with the country and I didn't. Make one brief comment. I'm a fifth generation American. And sometimes you get will ask me Are you Jewish. And I'll say no. I'm in New York you know we have really very precise distinctions between different groups based upon their geography as well as their background. I just wanted to mention that. Thank you very much. All right. Thanks for the call. Oh no Mr. Siegel you want to comment on that at all. Yeah I think that I think it's it's a fascinating point and I think it just underscores the side that the American immigrant experience as different as it appears can be very can be very similar if you if you
really try to break things down and and and understand the you know the progress that communities make. I don't entirely agree that that there's a whole melding of Hispanic or Latin American communities in in the United States. But I. Think that that comes from my perspective of having been to Florida and New York and other places with thriving communities that have seen you know different immigration patterns and have seen communities set up and succeed on their own and so while it's true that there are Mexican or you know restaurants that are perceived to be Mexican in certain parts of the country that really are really a melding of fine American cuisine.
There are lots of ethnic restaurants in ethnic neighborhoods that maintain a very strong very very very strong origin or identity. And I think that that can also be a good thing. All right let's talk with a caller in Champaign next line number two. Well hello. Yes hi. I guess I have one comment and one question my comment would be just to feed off of what your guest just said that it. It is really dangerous I think to think of the Latino community as one monolithic population for instance in Florida. My understanding is that Cuban Americans are not the majority Latino group down there but they do vote majority. They are the majority that that they had sort of disproportionately represented within the electoral process. But if you really sort of start to look at the makeup of Latinos down there it's much more complex and complicated. My second my comment I guess has to do with the issue of Latinos increasingly registering as
independents and I guess I'm wondering to what extent does that signal that Latinos are more driven by sort of issue oriented politics as opposed to party politics. And I'm thinking primarily of especially of newly registered Latinos who you know might be more motivated to vote regarding issues of. Immigration and border politics and things like that. Well but it's it's a wonderful question and it's it's almost so complicated that that it becomes fresh frustrating when pundits on. For instance CNN five minutes after an election are quick to explain exactly how the Hispanic community voted and exactly what issue it was that that made that ultimate shift. At the same time I think that Hispanic Americans from all the polling that I've seen this year. Are very much ranking of the same issues. You know
among their top priorities as all other Americans and so are jobs in the economy and health care and education are tops. Immigration remains a very important issue one that really cuts across. You know all Hispanic communities and often can I can help can help influence how no individual Hispanic voters will vote. But it's the overarching issues and that demonstrates that this is a community of Americans and not just and not just immigrants but people who have become either assimilated or acculturated are very much tapped into the you know into our society and into our economy and contributing greatly and also hoping hoping to see their goals and aspirations achieved just as much as the average American. Thank you. All right thanks for the call. Well I'm glad that the caller raised this issue of particular
issues that are of concern because it's one of the things that I really wanted to talk about and that as you say it when you go out you do surveys as have been done you find out that you know perhaps there are there's not as much difference between Latino Americans and others as you might think. For example I have been looking here. A survey that was done by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation. It's the 2004 National Survey of Latinos politics and civic participation and it's on the web if people want to look at it it's fairly long and presents a lot of statistical information. One of the things that they did was they asked people well what what issues concern you most. And I think that it it's interesting that I would expect a lot of people to think that immigration would be a top issue. And while it is it ranks behind education the economy health care the war on terror the war in
Iraq crime Social Security moral values taxes and the federal budget deficit it comes next now. Now that's still that's not to say that they people don't think that that that that's important. But they all of these other things are ranked ahead and not surprising because it's the same concerns that I think of. Lot of Americans have their concerns about education and they're concerned about the economy and jobs and they're concerned about health care and Medicare and they're concerned about national security in the war on terror and those things are the top issues and while immigration is there these other things lead. That's that's exactly right. And it will be interesting to see if there's a discernible seizure or or more breaking apart of Hispanic. Has it span a political identity or focus on the issues you know whether it's possible to find that newer or
or older generations of Hispanics have have a different outlook. Because as you know right now Hispanic Americans are the largest minority in this country. Lots of citizens that are that are invested in the society and assimilated. And and I think a lot of their their political identity will be shaped. In part by the communities that there and also by the same issues that are facing all Americans Well what happens as there continues to be an influx of new immigrants who become new citizens and world. Will we really see two two distinct voting groups within one Hispanic population. And I think that will be fascinating. You know what one. One problem that we've already seen this year is that the candidates are largely focusing on Spanish language political
advertising. But it's doing very little to reach Hispanics who are English dominant but have very strong cultural identities and strong connections to the community. They're doing very very little to reach them in a specific way. And I think that I think that that's one lesson that Hispanics can learn from other marketers who are who are actually jumping into into this category of trying to reach English dominant Hispanics. And there are some new TV stations and TV cable cable companies that are getting into this business news station called See TV S.I. TV that's based in Los Angeles and it'll be interesting to see how well that does and how many viewers it attracts. I guess I really am interested by the question. That you touch on where you say maybe there really is no answer at this time. That is what happens to
generally two attitudes within a group that we're talking about across time as they become more and I sort of hesitate to use the word assimilated because it's in a lot of people maybe are are not real happy with that word but you know when you take a look at newcomers to the country people who are not born in United States but come here and become citizens and then as they have children who are born in the United States and you look at what happens to attitudes across the generations what what happens and do you do you find that people's that the that the chill. And of immigrants who are are born in United States to parents who were not born United States you know are they really that different in their political attitudes and does that over time does that spread increase. And I guess it sounds as if you're saying that that's that indeed that's an interesting question but it's you don't really have an answer for him.
I don't have a full answer but. But to jump off this one point that you made you were very cautious about using the term assimilation law someone who teaches marketing and advertising at Johns Hopkins University and the master's program and it's a topic that I discuss in my ethics marketing course and I discuss it because assimilation and the culture relation are two different are two different terms and two different things. There are of course immigrant communities that become fully assimilated so much so that their entire cultural identity is very much based on who they are as as Americans and much less on who they are as as the children or grandchildren or great grandchildren of immigrants. But there are others and we're seeing this in the Hispanic community that that maintain a very very strong cultural identity. Maybe it will live in communities or neighborhoods that are. Population is dominated by by by their own communities by Hispanics are Asian Americans or African Americans.
And and maintain a very strong cultural identity but at the same time are also letting their culture and their their individuality be influenced by American culture American society and their you know profession and education. And and I think that those are two two distinct things and I don't think it's wrong to talk about either one of them and it's a topic that's discussed with you know with great intensity within immigrant communities. There are those who are advocates of multiculturalism and and of course often more strongly bilingualism. And there are others even new immigrants too who who have very little grasp of the English who are opposed to bilingualism because they believe that Americans and immigrants to this country must learn English and must be fluent in English in order to succeed.
And and so if those are issues that the community is debating that the Hispanic community is debating with great intensity then it's absolutely an issue that all Americans should be should be able to participate. And the discussion about 10 minutes left in this part of the show. Again let me introduce one last time our guest for this hour. Adam Segal He is director of the Spanish Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University based at the university's Washington Center for the Study of American government in Washington D.C. and they're interested in getting people to pay attention to the fact that the nation's Hispanic American voters are growing in their political importance. And that is certainly indicated by the fact that the parties and candidates and interest groups are making much greater efforts than they have in the past to reach these voters. They're spending more time trying to speak to them they're spending more money trying to speak to them. And that's very obvious this time around in the presidential election. Questions are welcome 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. You know I think that as you're in this country as as we think about the country and where it's headed
and the role that immigrants and newcomers play that these days there seems to be some fairly heated debate around the issues that you were just. Talking about a moment ago about but about acculturation and assimilation and I think that somehow people have in their minds perhaps that if you look at what the immigrant experience was let us say before in the period before World War Two. And historically what it has been is that people had a greater tendency to assimilate and that what we saw there at that point was it was not necessarily the people gave up their cultures and gave up their ties with their country of origin. But there was a there was perhaps more emphasis placed on becoming American for whatever that means. And that in more recent years the sort of the balance of these two things has shifted in the favor of perhaps grew more acculturation and a little bit less assimilation at
least I think that people particularly people who are worried who would say that they're worried about this and that they talk about things like that and I guess first of all I wonder if you know it's been as much as you can do it if you look. Back enough in American history whether in fact that's true. I mean what is it. Is it true that it used to be that somehow there was there was more assimilation and that now what's happened is there more of what happens. You do have to you have to say that is more acculturation or somehow it's just it's not that it's it's Things have changed but somehow there are preoccupation with it has changed the way that we look. Sure. And I think that part of part of that change is has been influenced by the dramatic growth of this community and the demonstration that Hispanic immigrants can and contribute to American society and American
success even while maintaining very very strong you know identities. You know so much so that that should someone who's not familiar with with the Hispanic community as a whole drive through an area and in a city that they're now. Not familiar with and see signs you know the signs in a shopping center that are that are almost entirely bilingual English and Spanish. Someone might be confused that they're that they're in a different country but in reality they are. And in a country that is increasingly willing to you know as it is increasingly willing to except I guess that long term there are more long term reality. I give you a perfect example of this in about a year ago there was this intense debate. The governor of Maryland. Made comments where he call multiculturalism bunk
and used a four letter word to describe multiculturalism. And there was an overwhelming response from newspapers in the area and from some communities that you wouldn't expect to have such a reaction and and a number of researchers dug deep and what they found was that that the governor's family when it immigrated to this country was. Was was living in a part of the country in. That in effect mirrored the Hispanic communities of today but it was only then a German American community where bilingualism was applauded where store fronts had signs in both German and and English.
And so there's there's often a mis misconception that that things are 100 percent different than they than they were in the past. And so really what I believe is happening is that there is a more long term willingness to to not only accept but to embrace communities. Bilingual communities. Then there has been in the past and so I do think that something has changed and I think that's because of the growing success of communities that were able to or are able to succeed. You know in you know in a in a bilingual environment just to sort of finish up and to to again say something about not only the potential political impact of Hispanics now. But what it might be I guess I'm I'm struck by again a sort of a statistic that comes from the Pew Hispanic Center folks that many adult Latinos can't vote because they're not citizens. And in 2003 only 40
percent of the nation's Hispanics were eligible to vote if given over time what we think you know we've seen steady increases in the percentage of the population that's that's Hispanic and we expect that probably that's going to continue. And if indeed those people really get to the point where they are able to participate so that they are citizens and then then they're going on to actually register and voting. It it seems that here we have a potential for a very influential bloc of voters in the not too distant future. Oh sure it's happening at the municipal level across the country and lots of you know. Lots of places already already spending vote and Hispanic elected officials have have more influence than ever before and I think when people look back on the 2004 election not only will they well they recognize a greater political influence of Hispanic voters but I think they'll also recognize
the growing success of Hispanic elected officials across the country. At you know at the at the local or county or even statewide level you know this is this is the first time where two Hispanic Americans are are very likely to be elected to the United States Senate and to serve at the same time. And that's remarkable. And and the number of Hispanic Americans in Congress continues to grow while it's too slow and not really. And not really representing the community proportionally. There are a lot of a lot of successes are happening each election cycle. Well we will have to leave it there because we've come to the end of the time Mr. Siegel and say thanks very much for talking with us told wonderful it's a great conversation I really appreciate it. Our guest Adam Segal he is the director of the Hispanic voter project at Johns Hopkins University. It's based at the
university's Washington Center for the Study of American government in Washington D.C..
Hispanic Voter Project
Producing Organization
WILL Illinois Public Media
Contributing Organization
WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/16-9k45q4s026).
Adam Segal, Hispanic Voter Project Director, Washington Center for the Study of American Government at Johns Hopkins University
Broadcast Date
Talk Show
community; Politics; Race/Ethnicity; Latinos; Elections
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: focus041029a.mp3 (Illinois Public Media)
Format: audio/mpeg
Generation: Copy
Duration: 50:24
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: focus041029a.wav (Illinois Public Media)
Format: audio/vnd.wav
Generation: Master
Duration: 50:24
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Focus; Hispanic Voter Project,” 2004-10-29, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “Focus; Hispanic Voter Project.” 2004-10-29. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Focus; Hispanic Voter Project. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from