Monday, December 17, 2012

Hispanic Voters Exercise Power

The most important and long lasting influence of the 2012 election will be the arrival of the Hispanic vote.

The vote as a percentage of the U.S. electorate has increased from 8 percent in 2004 to 10 percent today.  Hispanics now make up 14 percent of Colorado’s electorate.  But equally important has been the massive shift from President Bush winning 44 percent of the U.S. Hispanic vote in 2004 to Barack Obama receiving 75 percent in Colorado in 2012 and 71 percent nationally.

Fourteen percent of the Colorado electorate in 2012 was approximately 365,000 Hispanic voters, with Obama winning 273,000 of them, or twice his statewide margin of victory of 130,000 votes.
The significant Hispanic participation also affected down ballot races in Colorado where a record number of 12 Hispanics joined the legislature.  
They are also major influences in a host of states that have more than a million Hispanic residents:  Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas.  Florida is already a battleground state, with Obama winning it this year by less than a percentage point.  It could be joined by Arizona and Texas longtime Republican strongholds.
Education is Hispanics most important issue, then work and health care.  Immigration only rates fourth, but unless a politician gets it right, it’s impossible for them to get a hearing from most Hispanic voters.  Obama effectively used education (Dream Act) and immigration initiatives to cement support.  Obama’s deportation initiative was very popular.  Seventy-one percent said it was “about right” vs. “too little” or “too much.”

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