Self-exiled in California, missing Texas is a perpetual state of being. But on this election day, I am especially depressed I'm not back home. Anecdotal evidence from conversations and emails with various friends in San Antonio and Austin suggests a huge turnout and widespread interest. Hoopla for days. When even my mom can talk the finer details of Texas' particularly strange primary/caucus voting rules I know campaign interest is high.
Hard to predict exactly what's going to happen as all polls remain too close to call, but one agreed-upon trend is the importance of the Mexican American vote. Too much has already been written to rehash the wonkish details -- will Mexicans vote for a black guy?, is the Clinton/Obama split among raza generational?, why did Hillary pose with that mariachi kid? -- but one mainstream (read, gringo) attitude seems to be changing: their simplistic understanding of Brown people and a demographic complexity they are only now beginning to recognize.
Two things always invite scrutiny of Latinos by white people: when they want to sell us something or they want our vote.
When reporters and campaign strategists looked at raza in Texas for insight into voting trends they didn't discover a monolithic block, but discovered instead recent immigrants in Houston, 3rd and 4th gen non-Spanish speakers in San Antonio, college students in Austin, and those crazy people down in the Rio Grande Valley who love their Whataburgers. All different yet all Tejanos and each with different ideas on what they wanted in a candidate. It's a complexity that made itself known in articles in the New York Times, Newsweek, Daily Kos, and others. And while it's easy to make fun of an East Coast reporter just discovering Mexican Americans actually like to watch Project Runway -- just like people do in New Jersey -- it's a improvement from a couple of months ago when the depth of his cultural understanding of Tejanos was the enchilada plate at his favorite Jackson Heights Mexican restaurant. But let's see what happens. It remains to be seen, however, if this desire for understanding continues beyond election day. I don't have my hopes up.