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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Latino Voters Increase in Key Swing States

Jonathan Weisman’s report on “the surging Hispanic population in several states that figure to be crucial to the outcome of next year’s election” in the Wall St. Journal comes as welcome news to President Obama. As Weisman explains:

In Florida, the nation’s largest presidential swing state, the voting-age Hispanic population grew by nearly 250,000 people between 2008 and 2010, census data show. By contrast, the voting-age white population grew by 30,400.
Nevada added more than 44,000 voting-age Hispanics over the same period, more than double the increase of 18,000 voting-age whites. And in New Mexico, the voting-age Hispanic total rose by more than 36,000, outpacing the growth among whites of just over 19,000.
Mr. Obama won all three states in 2008–and two-thirds of Hispanic voters nationwide…He won North Carolina…by more than 14,000 votes. About 54,400 additional voting-age Hispanics have come to the state between 2008 and 2010, census data show.
…The Census Bureau reported Wednesday that Latinos made up 7% of voters in 2010, the highest percentage for a nonpresidential election since the bureau began collecting such data.

As one of the impressive companion graphics to Weisman’s article, the WSJ provides an instructive chart “Targeting the Hispanic Vote, State-by-State,” which anyone interested in Latino voter turnout should peruse for a few minutes.
Maria Cardona’s HuffPo article cited in J.P. Green’s Wednesday post addressed some of the GOP’s huge liabilities in campaigning for Latino votes. Weisman adds,

Mr. Obama may have one thing going for him: By huge majorities, Hispanic voters favor immigration bills that have languished since the Bush administration, and they largely blame the GOP for their failure, according to a new poll of Hispanic voters by Resurgent Republic
…Many Latinos read the GOP’s call for tough illegal immigration laws as an affront…Republican front-runners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have sparred at debates over a law the Texas governor signed granting in-state university tuition to illegal immigrants.
Mr. Romney has called the law a magnet for illegal immigration. When Mr. Perry suggested at a recent debate that the law’s critics had no heart, the backlash among conservative voters was harsh.

And according to a Republican-commissioned poll,

Resurgent Republic asked Hispanics in Florida, Colorado and New Mexico whether they agreed that the best way to improve the economy was to increase government investment in job training, education and infrastructure, or by reining in government spending, lowering taxes and reducing excessive regulations.
In Colorado, a swing state, 56% sided with more government spending, as Mr. Obama has proposed, while 37% sided with less government, as Republicans propose. In Florida, the spread was 52% to 40%. In New Mexico, it was 59%-30%.

But there are also serious problems concerning Latino support for the President, as Wesiman explains. According Wall Street Journal/NBC News surveys, Obama’s August 2011 approval rating was down 14 percent among Latinos since June 2009. And some swing states have added more whites than Latinos. Further:

…Hispanic unemployment stands at 11.3%, higher than the 9.1% rate for the nation as a whole. And the president has failed to deliver a promised overhaul of immigration laws that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Weisman reports that the GOP is already running ads in Spanish on TV and Radio.
Dems have set up phone banks in NM and NV and canvassing in Hispanic suburban neighborhoods. President Obama spoke at a heavilly Hispanic Denver high school and the White House has already conducted an on-line roundtable on issues of concern to the Latino community. Weisman reports that “his re-election campaign is recruiting Latino neighborhood captains, canvassing coordinators, phone-bank hosts and data-management coordinators.”
Weisman didn’t discuss the possible effects of GOP voter suppression initiatives, like new identification requirements in some states, which will likely reduce Latino votes. Dems hope the laws will backfire and energize Hispanic voters to support Democratic candidates across the ballot.

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