The Influence of the Hispanic Vote in the 2012 U.S.A. Elections

In the 2006 U.S.A. congressional elections, Hispanics comprised 6% of the voters. By the 2010 congressional elections, that number had risen to 7%.  In the 2008 U.S.A. Presidential election, total voter turn-out increased by 5 million people. This increase included about 2 million more Hispanic voters, 2 million more Black voters and about 600,000 more Asian voters, while the number of non-Hispanic White voters remained statistically unchanged.

What does this mean? It means that the Hispanic vote is now an important component in determining the direction of the United States. The 2010 elections provided many examples of this with 30 Latinos elected to the U.S. House of Representatives;  Republican Marco Rubio of Florida was elected to the U.S. Senate; and two Hispanics, both Republicans, were elected governors, Brian Sandoval in Nevada and Susana Martinez in New Mexico.

The fight for Hispanic voters will be very important in the 2012 Presidential election. President Barack Obama is trying to win a second term and repeat his victories in states such as Nevada, New Mexico and Florida, where the Hispanic population is very high.  Obama won 67% of the Latino vote in 2008, but today President Obama’s approval rating is at about 48% with Latino voters, which is an all time low. Opposing Republicans see an opportunity to take advantage of Obama’s declining numbers.  A recent poll by Resurgent Republic shows Mr. Obama is not as popular among Hispanics in Florida, Colorado and New Mexico, states that will be important to the Presidential election. The sentiment is highest in Florida, where 56% of Latinos say Obama hasn’t delivered on campaign promises.

The Hispanic population in the U.S.A. is not monolithic and represents many different people and interests. Cubans in South Florida, for example, have entirely different interest than Mexican-Americans in Arizona or Georgia, whose family members face detention and deportation by laws that almost single them out as targets for interrogation. Mexican-Americans in New Mexico or Colorado may see illegal immigration as a threat to legitimate businesses developed over years.  The economy is the most important factor for everybody, but the issue of immigration dominates in one form or another for Hispanics. 

The GOP poll found that the majority of Hispanics favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.A., which Obama has supported, and blame Republicans in Congress for failing to pass a bill to overhaul the immigration system and for not passing “The Dream Act.” Mr. Obama may have trumped the Republicans by side stepping the Republican dominated congress and directing the Department of Homeland Security to stop deporting young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S.A. before their sixteenth birthday and have not reached the age of thirty. The popularity of this decision among Latino voters will be significant in determining who gets the Latino vote in November.

By the 2012 election in November, Latinos will account for over 10% of the adult population of potential voters in 11 states. In another 13 states, Latinos account for 5-10% of the citizen adult population.  There are 24 states where Latinos have the capacity to influence electoral outcomes. In 2012, Latino voters will have the best chance to influence outcomes in 10 states for Senate, President, or both.  Beyond these 10 states, there are others where Latinos will matter if elections are close, as expected in Nebraska, Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.  Four of the top five states, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Colorado all have large and growing Latino electorates in otherwise politically competitive states.

The 2012 election in November will be historic in many ways, but the Latino vote in this election and in future elections could provide the swing vote to determine the course of the nation. 

 By:  William H. Tucker, Publisher

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