Enthusiasm Has Dipped, but Latinos Could Still Swing Tossup States

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Feet in 2 Worlds asks: Will Latinos head to the polls this year in the same numbers as 2008? (Photo by Flickr/bedin via Feet in 2 Worlds)

In the podcast above, Feet in 2 World‘s executive producer John Rudolph asks, “Will Latinos play a key role in the 2012 presidential election?” He speaks with Sylvia Manzano, a senior analyst at the polling firm Latino Decisions, who tells us that while the margin of Latino support for Obama will mirror that of 2008, enthusiasm has waned. The research organization has also highlighted the five states in which Hispanic voters could decide the outcome.

According to Manzano, about 70 to 72 percent of Latinos say they would vote for Obama — similar to the support that the president received in the 2008 election — while around 20 to 22 percent would vote for Romney. The difference between 2008 and 2012, however, may be turnout, as enthusiasm for Obama has slipped. On the other hand, recent immigration decisions could spur interest again.

The lack of immigration reform and record numbers of deportations of undocumented immigrants under President Obama has meant Latinos are less enthusiastic about his candidacy than they were four years ago. However, enthusiasm has increased this summer since the announcement of the deferred action program and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down major portions of Arizona’s immigration law known as SB 1070.

While the biggest issue for Latinos is the economy, Manzano indicates that the voting bloc tends to support Democratic policies such as increasing taxes for the wealthy, government spending and social programs. Immigration is another major issue for Latinos, Manzano says in the podcast, pointing out that the two areas can be linked.

In Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia, “Latino voters could decide the outcome,” found a poll conducted by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice. According to the New York Times, all but Arizona are considered swing states.

Texas serves as a microcosm of the impact of the Latino vote, Manzano told Rudolph. Of course, like any sector of the population, Latinos do not have identical voting habits and can lean differently depending on the state.

According to Manzano, Texas, a state not on the list, represents the future of American politics. She focuses on two rising stars – Republican Ted Cruz who is running for the U.S. Senate in Texas and Julian Castro the young mayor of San Antonio who will give the keynote address at this year’s Democratic convention. This is about national demography says Manzano: more Latinos means more Latinos in both parties.

Manzano argues that the growing Latino electorate in Texas means we’re likely to see the emergence of a more moderate Republican party rather than a quick shift to electing Democrats. She says this is like New Mexico where Latinos tend to vote for moderate Democrats or liberal Republicans. She says Arizona, another state with a growing number of Hispanic voters, is more likely to follow California and turn blue over time.

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