Democratic night-owls who saw C-SPAN2’s broadcast late last night of the illuminating panel discussion “Perceptions of Latino Voters” woke up today bleary-eyed, but substantially better-informed about a pivotal demographic in American politics that is experiencing explosive growth. Unfortunately, C-SPAN is not yet making the program available on streaming video, but it can be purchased for $29.95 from C-SPAN. The panel featured several impressive Latino political luminaries, including Sergio Bendixen, Luis Fraga, Lindsay Daniels and Cesar Martinez.
Fortunately, however, some of the information that was discussed on the program is available in a report entitled “The Latino Electorate: Profile and Trends,” by Lindsay Daniels and Clarissa Martinez De Castro for the National Council of La Raza Latino Empowerment and Advocacy Project (free download here). The report features interesting discussions that have a direct bearing on political strategy for those seeking Hispanic votes. A few facts from the study:
’04 Latino Voter Participation rate: 28% (compared to 65.8% for whites and 56.3% for African Americans. The gap shrinks significantly when “citizens of voting age” are compared.)
5 states with highest Latino voter registration as a percent of total in 2004: NM 33.7; TX 22.4; CA 17.3; AZ 14.3; FL 11.2
Hispanic share of ’06 electorate (according to exit polls) 8%
Latino self-identified registered Democrats outnumber their Republican counterparts 2-1.
3.6 million Hispanics were eligible to become citizens in 2004.
The Latino vote split 49-49 for the Democratic and Republican candidates for Florida Governor in ’06. (Bendixen attributes most of the improvement for Democrats to growth of Florida’s non-Cuban Latinos)
The even-better news for Democrats is that big spikes in Latino citizenship applications are being reported, and in last night’s C-SPAN2 panel, Bendixen said that Hispanic disenchantment with the GOP appears to be at an all-trime high. Clearly, Democrats have a strong interest in supporting easing of the “path to citizenship” for Latinos living in the U.S.