If you want to be taken seriously by politicians you had best have a lot of money, or be able to reliably deliver up a significant bloc of voters.
In California, the races between Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina for the Senate and Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman for governor are essentially tied among non-Latino voters, according to a poll by the Los Angeles Times, Latino Decisions and the University of Southern California. Democrats Boxer and Brown, however, were leading overall, and the difference was almost entirely due to Hispanics. They make up 19 percent of California's electorate.About 11.2% of the population of California is over age 65. Older people are reliable voters. They don't complain, "If I don't get what I want in this election, I might stay home next time around. Or maybe even this time." They vote and boy, do they get.
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As Barreto said, "The vote is there for the Democrats, but Latinos aren't going to turn out for the Democrats just because."
With due respect given to Eugene Robinson's argument that reliable voting blocks can be taken for granted, if you're a big enough bloc to matter the best way to change that is to show up at the polls in consistently high numbers. If you want the Republicans to offer a platform that is more appealing to African American voters, demonstrate that their disinterest will cause them to lose elections.