Democrats Can't Take Blacks, Hispanics for Granted in 2012

A fiscally conservative 2012 candidate could grab valuable Hispanic and African American votes.

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Herman Cain made headlines when he said on CNN that black voters have been "brainwashed" into voting for Democrats. That was condescending, to say the least. But he went on to say that 30 to 50 percent of African American voters are "open minded" and could be persuaded to vote Republican. Despite his unfortunate wording, Cain makes a good point: the Democratic Party shouldn't take the black vote for granted in 2012.

Nor should it take the Hispanic vote for granted, either. The new Univision bipartisan poll of 1,500 likely Latino voters shows a "substantial" Hispanic swing vote is coming into play, according to Politico. A whopping 43 percent of Latino likely voters call themselves conservatives; even 32 percent of Hispanic Democrats polled identified themselves as conservative. Among "swing" Latino voters, their top concern was this statement: "The federal government in D.C. is wasting too much of our tax money." Not immigration, not jobs, not other so-called Hispanic issues. Like the rest of us, Hispanic voters are deeply concerned about the size and scope of government. That says to me that Hispanic voters might be very open to voting for a fiscal conservative in 2012.

[Walsh's Washington: Polls Show Electorate Could Go Either Way in 2012]

Friday's CNN poll shows that 90 percent of Americans think our economy is in poor shape. (The remaining 10 percent must be members of Congress.) Polls like that, along with majorities of Americans thinking we've been on the wrong track for two years now, show that growing dissatisfaction cuts across all demographic groups. That frustration with both our economy and our politics explains why 40 percent of the electorate is now made up of independent voters and why the presidential race is so fluid. It can also mean a huge opportunity for a third party candidate, should the GOP nominating process produce someone who is known more as a social conservative than a fiscal one.

No campaign should take anyone's vote for granted.

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