Tag Archive | "Election"

Latino Voters Say No Way to Romney

In the final stretch of the presidential campaign, both candidates are finally scrambling to capture the attention of the nation’s 25 million Hispanic voters. If Bronx Latinos are any indication, Republican challenger Mitt Romney may have lost that contest by a landslide.

An informal BronxInk survey of 42 Latinos did not find one potential voter who planned to support the GOP candidate. Ninety percent of respondents said they would vote for President Barack Obama, while 10 percent were undecided.

A BronxInk.org Sept. 22 survey of 42 Hispanic voters in the Bronx

Some surveyed said Romney had gone out of his way to insult them. “Take my word, 90 percent of the Bronx is going for Obama,” predicted Alberto Colón, a 58-year-old Puerto Rican and retired warehouse worker, interviewed in East Tremont. “Romney offended the people of the Bronx. I don’t believe anything he says.”

Others were skeptical that the GOP contender had any real understanding of their lives. “If you were born in a golden cradle, it’s really likely that you won’t understand what it feels like to be poor,” said Angel Bruno, 67, Puerto Rican-born, who compared Obama to John F. Kennedy. “Obama had a humble childhood and therefore he isn’t indifferent to Latino suffering.”

Sidewalk interviews with residents were conducted on September 22 from the Pelham Parkway neighborhood to the Highbridge section of the Bronx. The 42 respondents ranged in age from 20 to 80. Eight were women and 34 were male. Those surveyed said they emigrated originally from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Ecuador and México. Hispanics represent 54 percent of the population in the Bronx.

Results echoed a national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released on June 24, that found Obama leads among 66 percent of Hispanics, compared to Romney's 25 percent. In 2008, Obama won 67 percent of Latinos, while Republican challenger John McCain brought in 31 percent.

On Monday, Sept. 17, Mitt Romney addressed business leaders at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, saying he is “convinced that the Republican Party is the rightful home for Hispanic Americans.”

However, the Republican Party’s hard line immigration policies and Romney’s support for Arizona’s immigration law, might explain why those surveyed in the Bronx view him cautiously. Eight-two percent said Barack Obama better understands the needs and problems of immigrants.

For Francisco Almaguer Cruz, a 54-year-old Cuban,  Mitt Romney is not an option for immigrants. "You have to be crazy to vote for Romney. He doesn't care about the poor."

Hispanics strongly favor Obama in general. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said they have a favorable image of Obama, while 51 percent expressed an unfavorable view of Romney.

A BronxInk.org Sept. 22 survey of 42 Hispanic voters in the Bronx

Although President Obama in his first term in office did not introduce the immigration reform he promised, over 71 percent of the survey participants approve of the way he has handled immigration.

Raúl Lopez, a 44-year-old Mexican immigrant who has been struggling during the last three years to find a job, believes Obama inherited a tattered economy that has kept him from paying attention to immigration reform. “We have to give him more time,” said Lopez. “Four years are not enough to fix the immigration system.”

Most said they were impressed by Obama’s recent policy decision to defer deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the  United States as children. Over half of the surveyed said they believe Obama when he says if elected again, he will continue to reform immigration policies.

A BronxInk.org Sept. 22 survey of 42 Hispanic voters in the Bronx

Still, health care remains the top concern of Latino voters in the Bronx, more than immigration policies. Thirty-three percent selected health care as their top concern, followed by employment, and then immigration.  According to a Gallup Poll, Hispanics put healthcare and all economic issues before immigration.

Many surveyed accused both candidates of pandering to Hispanics. Bronx Hispanics like Reina Ramirez, 54, cast doubt on the candidates’ real commitment to the community. “Behind their promises is a strategy to win votes,” said Ramirez. “They just want to pretend that we’re important because they need our vote.”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, East Bronx, Featured, North Central Bronx, Politics, Southern BronxComments (0)

Bronx Dominicans gear up for 2012 elections

Four months ago, Bronx resident Maria Rosenda was robbed while visiting the Dominican Republic. The assailants followed her from the airport to her mother’s house in Bajos de Haina, jumping her as soon as she reached the front door. Rosenda, who moved to the U.S. in 1988, said the mugging was typical of today’s Dominican Republic, a place so dangerous that “you can’t even walk safely in the streets.” For Rosenda, the electoral coordinator for the Dominican Revolutionary Party in the Bronx, the way to change that is through politics. She is one of dozens of volunteers working to get Dominicans registered to vote in next year’s Dominican national elections. In the past few months, they have helped nearly 8,000 Bronx residents sign up. While Dominicans abroad have been able to vote for the Dominican president since 2000, this time they will also vote for legislators stationed overseas. The Bronx, home to New York’s largest Dominican population, will have a big say in who wins. About 150,000 Dominican-born residents, along with their children, live in the Bronx. Rosenda, who returns home several times a year to participate in local politics, is working to make sure each and every one is ready to vote next May. The special education teacher has been going nonstop for months. When school let out last June, she took just four days off from work and spent the rest of the summer working at the campaign office from 9 a.m. until past midnight seven days a week. Sitting in the campaign office in Mount Hope, Rosenda and other volunteers spend their evenings entering voter information into a database. The long hours bring them close together, said Elida Martinez, another volunteer. “It’s like a big family here,” Martinez said. The Bronx campaign office is unusual in that almost all of the volunteers are women. Martinez said they are all driven by concern for those back home. “We have family over there, you know,” the 46-year-old homemaker said. “Before, we would send $100 over and that did something. Now, $100 is nothing.” The overseas legislators will give Dominicans abroad a bigger voice back home. The legislators will represent three areas outside of Dominican borders: the northern United States and Canada, the southern United States down to the Caribbean and Europe. Twenty-three people are running for the three available U.S. and Canada spots. Seven of the 23 live in the Bronx. Arsenio Devares, a teacher of 20 years, is one them. Devares’s brothers and sisters have all moved to the U.S., but the Morris Heights resident still has one foot back home. “That’s one of the most important things for Dominican people,” said Devares, who teaches at PS 17X in Morrisania. “They always think about going back.” Devares said the typical Dominican ideal is to retire back in the Caribbean. “We work hard over here to buy houses back there.” Mount Eden resident Julian Melendez is one of Devares’ competitors. Melendez, a businessman and lawyer who has lived in New York for 14 years, worked at the Dominican consulate in New York for four years and saw the problems Dominicans face. “I went to jail many times to visit Dominicans awaiting deportation.” It will be several weeks before the party nominates its legislative candidates. In the meantime, everyone is still working to register voters, and there are many long nights ahead. “We drink a lot of coffee here,” Martinez said as another volunteer arrived with the evening’s supply.

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An Election, Or Something Like It

By Alex Berg

On mayoral election day, polling stations in the South Bronx bared little resemblance to one year ago, when feverish crowds turned out to vote in the presidential election. That was then, when upwards of 2.6 million New Yorkers voted in the presidential election. On November 4th of this year, the New York Times reported only 1.1 million New Yorkers came out to vote, according to the city's Board of Elections. I conducted exit polls at about six polling stations, along with other BronxInk.org reporters who were stationed all over the Bronx. The Mott Haven Community Center, at 3rd Ave. and 143rd St., had the most consistent stream of voters. Still, voters were scarce enough that poll workers were able to escort them, one by one, from the street into the center. That was while other poll workers smoked cigarettes and relaxed outside. According to one poll worker, two of the three voting machines were broken anyway. Even so, there were no lines, no complaints. During the chilly hour I spent standing outside the center starting around 7:45 a.m., few more than eight people showed up to cast their votes. “I believe in the process and I want my vote to count,” said Roxanne R., a 40-something year old nurse who refused to give her last name. Roxanne was one of the few and the proud who voted at the community center, in part because she felt it was her duty as a member of the community. Her attitude was not common. Five blocks south of the community center at the Judge Gilbert Ramirez Apartments, there was one voter over the span of 40 minutes. She declined to speak with me. This scene repeated itself at four other polling stations, where there were either very few voters or none at all. By noon, I spoke with 11 voters in total. Eight voted for former Comptroller Bill Thompson, two voted for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and one refused to identify who she voted for. BronxInk.org’s Bronx-wide exit polls reported Bronxites voted for Bill Thompson 2-1, most of them motivated against the mayor's bid to overturn term limits. “We have to get Bloomberg out of office,” said Natasha Spivey, a 40-year-old administrative assistant who voted at P.S. 154 on 135th St. “He bought his term limit.” But perhaps the underwhelming voter turnout parallels the candidates’ absence in the Bronx. As I walked along 3rd Avenue from 149th St. to 135th St. and up various cross streets, I saw only two campaign posters. They were signs for Thompson. One was crushed in the street outside the Mott Haven Houses, a housing project. Teresa Hargraves, a 60-year-old who voted at P.S. 154, said she though both candidates neglected the Bronx during the campaign. Hargraves was right. On election night, BronxInk.org reporter Maia Efrem asked the Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. if Thompson came to the Bronx during the campaign. Diaz said he did. Once. When I called Thompson’s press contact to verify how frequently he campaigned in the Bronx, I was told at the time there was no one in the office that knew (Mayor Bloomberg’s Bronx office did not return my call or email). At the end of the day, Mayor Bloomberg beat out Thompson by less than five percent. It’s difficult not to consider how the election might have been different if more people voted. Or if the candidates had treated the Bronx like the rest of New York City.

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