How Barack Obama lost Latino voters for the Democrats in 2014.

How Barack Obama Lost Latino Voters for the Democrats in 2014

How Barack Obama Lost Latino Voters for the Democrats in 2014

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 9 2014 4:50 PM

How Barack Obama Lost Latino Voters for the Democrats in 2014

Wave goodbye to key support.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

I met with MoveOn's leadership team today, near the Capitol, and irritated them with questions about why progressives might decide to stay home in 2014. Among the team: Washington director Ben Wikler, PAC executive director Ilya Sheyman, and c4 director Anna Galland. Among my questions: Weren't progressives going to be angry that President Obama had punted yet again on taking further executive actions to stop deportations?

"I think we would agree with advocacy groups that he should take the leap now, especially after raising expectations," said Galland. "On the merits, on humanitarian merits, it's a bad decision."


But Galland, et al. were confident that the president would escape blame; voters who wanted action on immigration knew whom to vote for. "The people who voted against immigration reform would be good people to vote against," said Wikler.

"Should the president act before November 4, progressives will have his back, because it's very clear he needs to act," said Sheyman.

How true was this? For an alternate perspective, consult this chart from the pollsters at Latino Decisions.

As Simon Maloy says, the problem for Democrats in 2014—the problem, maybe, for Republicans in the long term—was that this year's battlegrounds featured almost no crucial Latino voters. Colorado Sen. Mark Udall needs Latino votes to win again. (In 2008, Udall won easily as he took 63 percent of the Latino vote.) And Udall keeps getting to Obama's left on this. If anyone can split the difference, and convince Latinos that they should take it out on Republicans if they don't like deportations, I guess it'd be him.

Another problem, less often discussed, is that Latino turnout always, always lags turnout from other ethnic groups. You could see that last month in Arizona, where the safe, blue, majority-Latino 8th District saw only about 25,000 voters turn out in a competitive primary between Latino candidates. To the south, in the more evenly divided 2nd District, more than 58,000 voters turned out for a less competitive Republican primary. The structural reasons for acting in 2014 were simply not comparable to the reasons for acting before a presidential election.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.