The president has the "Viva Bush" campaign and immigrant stars such as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. His challenger has "Unidos con Kerry" bumper stickers and an African-born wife who waxes about the American dream.
Both candidates are energetically reaching out to immigrants in the run-up to the Nov. 2 presidential election, and a new report shows why. Foreign-born citizens accounted for 54.9 percent of the net increase in people registered to vote between 1996 and 2000, according to the Immigration Policy Center report.
"We had a surge in naturalization in the 1990s . . . and a surge in political participation," said Rob Paral, one of the authors of the report, which is based on data from census surveys.
The report, released this week, found that there were 10.7 million adult immigrant citizens in the United States in 2000, of whom 6.2 million registered to vote. About 5.4 million of them cast ballots.
Many immigrants, of course, cannot vote because they are not citizens. And only about 58 percent of foreign-born citizens were registered to vote in 2000, compared with 70 percent of native-born, the study found. But if they are registered, immigrants have higher rates of turnout on Election Day, the report said.
Latino, Asian American and other ethnic groups have launched major registration drives to get hundreds of thousands more people on election roles. The votes of naturalized citizens could be especially important in battleground states such as Arizona, Florida, New Mexico and Washington.
The report did not predict how many immigrant voters would cast ballots in 2004. But according to the latest official statistics, more than 2 million people have become citizens since the start of fiscal year 2001.
An Enviro Ad Blitz
In what it is calling "the largest single-state media campaign in the history of environmental activism," the League of Conservation Voters announced this week that it will be blitzing Florida with $3 million worth of ads. The commercials will focus on the Bush administration's support for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and its ties to "big oil" and to corporations such as Halliburton.
The league's president, Deb Callahan, said she is confident the ads will resonate with Floridians. "Drilling is a mother's-milk issue in Florida," Callahan said. "It's something people understand."
In 2001, the Bush administration considered leasing several million acres in Alabama's territorial waters, part of which stretched within 30 miles of Pensacola, Fla. The president ultimately decided to lease only in areas 100 miles beyond Alabama and Florida's coasts: Bush's top environmental adviser, James L. Connaughton, said the president "has been steadfast and consistent in his opposition to drilling off Florida's coast."
The league is not the only environmental group targeting the Sunshine State: Environment2004 is launching ads in Tampa and Milwaukee aimed at women that highlight mercury contamination among fish and how corporate taxes financing the Superfund trust fund have expired.
Aimee Christensen, the group's executive director, said the ads will "reinforce what we're going to communicate directly to our voters."
"We're using as many avenues as possible to reach our voters," including multiple phone and mail contacts with undecided and swing voters, she said.
The Florida ad buy, which includes cable and broadcast ads aimed at women on shows such as "Trading Spaces," "Oprah" and "The View," will cost $160,000. Environment2004 is also spending $50,000 in Milwaukee and is planning additional ad buys in two recreational fishing markets, Green Bay, Wis., and Fort Myers, Fla.