[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Analyzing Bolaños vs. Villalobos

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Analyzing Bolaños vs. Villalobos

I was looking over the stats from the hotly-contested Bolaños/Villalobos State Senate race yesterday, and some pretty interesting stuff came out of it which I would like to discuss.

First of all, everyone locally knows that Bolaños had the full (and I mean full) support from the most powerful Republican in the state, Jeb Bush. This alone would typically lead to a close race, but there's more.

Senate District 38 covers central and southern Miami-Dade County. The district is split in half roughly along Kendall Drive. For those of you not familiar with the local demographics, areas north of Kendall Drive are largely Cuban-American neighborhoods, while areas to the south are mixed with no one single ethnic group dominating. If you take into consideration the fact that only Republicans voted in this race, the above demographics are amplified even more. Therefore, I will make the rather safe assumption that most voters in this race from north of Kendall were Cuban-American Republicans, with a mixed bag to the south (which includes yours truly and other illustrious C-A bloggers, BTW). Miami-Dade County usually comes up with a demographic breakdown of each race some days after the elections, and if I'm proven wrong, I'll mention it.

So as they say on TV...let's look at the map.

I initially linked to the map in a comment to this post on Stuck on the Palmetto, and it shows that most of the precincts to the north - dominated by Cuban-Americans - were won by Villalobos, while most of the southern ones - with less C-A voters - were taken by Bolaños.

Granted, it was a very close race overall, but given all the background "politicking" that went on, such as the connection to the controversial Cuba book ban, many people, including Jeb himself, were banking on the monolithic Cuban-American Republicans to vote their hearts and pick Bolaños, and by proxy their favorite state governor of all-time, Jeb. They figured all Bolaños had to do was put his name on the ballot (which is pretty much all he did) and, voila, he wins.

Something happened to this theory held to be gospel by so many: it was flawed. The areas that were supposed to be Bolaños strongholds turned against him.

The reason it was flawed? That's easy. People assume that Cuban-Americans, especially the hard-line, cigar-chomping types who are registered Republicans, are single-minded and do not comprehend the nuances of a particular issue or race, and at worst are vulnerable to demagogues. I think this race has gone a long way towards proving this wrong.

Of course, many of us have known the reality for a long time, but continually shake our heads whenever we see our community misportrayed over and over again.

Another relevant note: this is also much of the same area that voted in a Colombian-American Republican state representative, Juan Zapata, over a Cuban-American Republican a few years back.

We'll see how long it takes for the media to catch on to this. Some advice: don't hold your breath. Old stereotypes are hard to eliminate.


Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Don't forget that both Diaz-Balarts endorsed Villalobos. That was one of the reasons I felt comfortable voting for him despite the Governor's opposition to him.

3:38 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger mkh said...

Robert, I admit I was a bit puzzled last night as I was watching the precinct results come in. Your assessment seems sound, though, and I hope that this will help dispel the myth. I've known and worked with C-A Democratic candidates over the years, and -- for what it is worth -- they are even more frustrated by the media's portrayal of Cubans as a monolithic bloc.

Sadly, the stereotype is often propped up by conservative Cuban politicians who use the hoary old "All good Cubans support me!" schtick over and over, even when the numbers don't support them. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the stereotype's end.

6:51 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Val Prieto said...

OK, if nobody else will, Ill come out and say it:

The voting probably went that way because Bolaños comes off like un bofe.

7:06 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

Val, you're right, he does come across as a dork, although "bofe" translates into something a bit different than dork.

That's part of my whole point. It would have been easy for a monolithic and narrow-minded populace to overlook something like that just because he "said the right things" and was supported by the right people. Basically, C-A Republicans voted just any responsible group would vote, based on merit.

I think it's fair to say that most Cuban-Americans, regardless of political affiliation, don't like the way they are perceived by the media.

Yes, Villalobos was backed by the Balarts, but they were pretty low-key about it.

8:10 PM, September 06, 2006  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Low key or not if they had backed Bolaños he'd be going to the Senate and not Villalobos. I voted for Villalobos but not because I agree with his stance on class size and vouchers but because of Bolaños being a bofe that viciously attacked his opponent without a plan of his own. He could have had a more nuanced argument. He could have said that the class size amendment sounds good in theory but like most liberal programs has unintended consequences. Run on the issues.

I was going to vote for Bolaños after hearing Al Cardenas speak about Villalobos' votes but then the direct mail pieces started coming in and I was disgusted.

5:24 PM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger Robert said...

The Balarts on the Bolaños bandwagon along with Jeb would have been the end of Villalobos. As much as I like Jeb, I am dissapointed at his sour grapes reaction for Villalobos not supporting his class-size amendments repeals and other contentious issues.

How about the calls from Jeb himself asking to vote for Bolaños? I'm glad that madness is over, at least for now.

Relating this to the Marlins, Villalobos did screw them over when they went up there to ask for the sales tax rebate a couple of years back. That's one thing I held against old Alex, but then again he did have to deal with the "bofes" in Marlins' upper management!

6:19 PM, September 07, 2006  
Blogger Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

I think the class size amendment should be repealed but I think it should be put to the voters like the bullet train. Let's have a real debate about what makes a school good and not try to fix it with a magic bullet. Logic dictates that it's better to have 35 kids in a class learning from a superior teacher than to have 17 in a class with that teacher and 18 in a class with a sub-par teacher. Nationally class size has gone down since the 1960s and achievement has also gone down. There is no correlation between class size and achievement.

1:42 PM, September 08, 2006  

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