Obama, Romney and the importance of the Latino vote

By | 04.16.12 | 9:29 am

President Barack Obama (Pic by The White House, via Flickr)

Both President Obama and Mitt Romney discussed the importance of the Latino vote over the weekend.

According to MSNBC’s First Read, speaking at a private fundraiser in Palm Beach over the weekend, ”Romney told his audience, ‘We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party,’ warning that recent polling showing Hispanics breaking in huge percentages for President Obama ‘spells doom for us.’”

“Romney said the GOP must offer its own policies to woo Hispanics, including a ‘Republican DREAM Act,’ referring to the legislative proposal favored by Democrats that would offer illegal immigrants a limited path to citizenship, to give Hispanic voters a real choice between parties,” MSNBC reports, adding that “Romney nonetheless predicted that, by November, the economy would trump immigration as a driving issue for Hispanic voters.”

Latino Decisions wrote last week that “those who follow trends in Latino politics already know that Latinos consistently identify jobs and the economy, education and health care among their top issue concerns, tracking closely the priorities of other Americans,” but “immigration policy is deeply important to Latino voters, often because of personal or family ties to the immigration experience.”

“President Barack Obama attacked Republican White House hopeful Mitt Romney on Saturday over his stance on illegal immigrants and promised to pursue broad immigration reform if he wins another term,” Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, at the weekend Summit of the Americas “with Latin American leaders, Obama is hoping to court Hispanic voters back home whose support could be crucial to him in the November 6 election.”

“The Democratic president wants to fight an impression that he has neglected Latin America and failed to push hard enough on comprehensive immigration reform,” adds Reuters.

In a report issued in early April, Latino Decisions wrote, “We offer not a definitive projection about Latino influence in the 2012 but a way to project that influence and the key factors shaping that estimation.”

Latino Decision’s lists “three obvious but important premises”:

  • Presidential elections are won state by state, so any projections in 2012 must be state specific;
  • Latino influence in a state is most clearly identified when the Latino margin exceeds the final vote margin—this can occur regardless of the population size—in very close elections, even a small Latino electorate might make the difference, such as Indiana in 2008.
  • The likelihood of Latino vote being determinative is dependent on the share of the eventual turnout comprised by Latino voters, the share made up of non-Latino ethnic blocks, and the two-party vote of each.

Latino Decisions focused its statistical analysis on “16 states where Latinos could significantly influence who wins a statewide election.”

According to the report, in Florida, “where the non-Latino vote seemingly rests squarely at a 50-50 distribution, the Latino vote is extremely influential at an estimated 16% of the electorate. Unlike other states, the Latino vote in Florida is much more divided and has demonstrated swings in different elections.”

Latino Decisons added:

Looking to our model, when a Republican candidate wins 51% of the non-Latino vote in Florida, they would need to win 45% of the Latino vote to win statewide. However, if they fall under 50% and win 49% of the non-Latino vote, they can still win Florida if they win 56% among Latinos. Historically the Latino vote has been the deciding factor in Florida elections. In 2004 when Mel Martinez was elected to the U.S. Senate he lost among non-Latinos, but his 60% vote share among Latinos gave him an overall win by 1 percent.

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