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November 6th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Opinion: For Latino voters, an unhappy choice

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

By Ruben Navarrette, Jr., CNN Contributor

San Diego (CNN) – In this election, Latinos were supposed to play kingmakers. Instead they got crowned. No matter who wins on Tuesday, America's largest minority will be the loser.

As a Latino voter, and part of one of the country's fastest growing demographics, I was supposed to choose the next president. No, really, it was all arranged. This was going to be my year, along with the other 10 million or so Latino voters expected to cast ballots Tuesday.

Everyone said so - the pundits, the media, and the strategists. In February, Time Magazine had a cover story, with the eye-catching title, "Yo Decido" (I decide) - explaining how Latinos were going to pick the next president. Newspapers, websites, and television networks - supported financially by advertisers who wanted to tap into Latino consumers and the $1.2 trillion they spend annually - did special reports on the power of the Latino vote.

The concept of Latino voting power was easy to sell. Latinos bought it so they could feel powerful, and non-Latinos bought it because many of them already feel powerless anyway due to changing demographics.

There's only one problem with the storyline: It may not be true. Latino voters could wind up with very little power at all.

I don't mean that their votes won't count, or that they might not help decide the outcome in a few close states - namely Colorado, Florida and Nevada. That might well happen.

What I mean is that, in a broader sense, Latinos can be forgiven for feeling utterly powerless this year. It's been a tough campaign for them. They've been insulted, treated like fools, lied to, told they weren't really promised what they thought they had been, talked about behind their backs, and assured the administration is "breaking its neck" to achieve immigration reform - an issue that, in reality, was put so far on the back burner that it fell off the stove.

So, regardless of what happens on Tuesday, Latinos are limping into the polling booth having been accorded no respect, no influence, no power - not because of what happens that day, but because of what happened for weeks leading up to that day.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Jorge

    If he's trying to unite a country full of different people that haven't seen eye to eye for the last 236 years, he's in for a BIIIG eye-opener about the good ole' U.S. of A...

    November 7, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. Raybee

    Waw, waw waw, what have you done for me. Me, me me me. The president has a country to run, not pander to latinos or blacks, but everyone together some of you just don't get it, that he is trying to united the country, not divide it.

    November 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |