Latinos could swing some red states blue
There are 12.1 million unregistered but possibly eligible Latino adults in 10 battleground states.
By EMILY DERUY
The notion that Latinos could decide the 2012 election has been bandied about for months, but how true is it?
The number of unregistered Latino voters is large enough to turn some red states into swing states. According to a new infographic from the liberal Center for American Progress, 10 battleground states have a combined 12.1 million eligible but unregistered Latino voters and possibly-eligible Latino voters — green card holders who are eligible to become citizens and vote for the first time in November.
In Florida, for example, that number is 1.4 million — five times Obama’s margin of victory in 2008.
Arizona has been a red state for decades, but GOP candidate John McCain carried his home state against Barack Obama by only 195,404 votes in 2008. There are 405,300 Latino U.S. citizens who do not have voting credentials, and another 575,300 Latino permanent residents who could become naturalized citizens eligible to vote, meaning the state could easily swing blue.
In eight of the 10 states studied, the number of potential voters is greater than the margin by which either McCain or Obama won the state.
But getting potential Latino voters to the polls is hard work. Many Latinos say they feel ignored by the candidates, and are not compelled to vote one way or the other. Others have difficulty registering, often because of language barriers. And while many are eligible to naturalize, that process is often long and convoluted, so the likelihood that those potential voters will turn out in significant numbers in November is slim.
The numbers in the infographic are still eye-opening.
Even in Texas, regarded as a solidly red state, there are 2,154,600 unregistered eligible Latino voters, and another 920,000 eligible to naturalize. McCain won the state by 950,695 votes.
According to Latino Decisions, Latino voters comprise at least five percent of the adult citizen population in nearly half of all states, and they make up more than 10 percent in 11 states.
They care deeply about healthcare and immigration, which has been in the national spotlight following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the controversial Arizona law and Obama’s announcement that some undocumented youth will be eligible to avoid deportation and remain in the country.
“What role these voters will play in this November’s election as well as in future Novembers is still an open question,” wrote Philip Wolgin, an immigration policy analyst at the Center for American Progress and the author of the report. “But what is clear is that how candidates and parties talk about immigration will heavily influence the future of the Latino vote.”
(Photo: Screenshot, Center for American Progress infographic)