Latino Voter Turnout May Be Key to Presidential Race

If President Barack Obama wins reelection, Latino voter turnout may be a key factor. Latinos were a big part of Obama's base in 2008 and comprise large portions of the electorate in some key swing states.

Obama recognizes this as well. In an interview this week with The Des Moines Register, he said, "Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community."

Among the current swing states this election cycle, Latinos make up a large part to the electorate in four of them: Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia. Additionally, New Mexico was considered a swing state in 2000 and 2004, but now leans Democratic in large part to the growing Latino population. Together, those states have 62 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election.

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According to a report released this week by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), the share of the Latino vote is projected to be 8.7 percent in Colorado (a 15 percent increase from 2008) and 18.3 percent in Florida (a 34.5 percent increase from 2008). In Nevada, Latinos are 13.5 percent of all registered voters.

In 2008, Obama won 67 percent of the Latino vote. He could surpass that this year. A September Pew Research Center poll showed Obama with 69 percent support among Latino registered voters and a Latino Decisions poll this week showed Obama with the support of 71 percent of the Latino community. Further, the Latino Decisions poll showed that more Latinos (40 percent) said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in 2008, than Latinos who said they were more enthusiastic in 2008 (32 percent).

There had been some concern that the Latino vote would be depressed this year because Obama had not pushed for immigration reform as he promised during his 2008 campaign and deportations of undocumented immigrants increased under Obama.

That changed, though, after Obama's "Dream" decision this summer, which appears to have energized Latino voters. Obama announced that unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the country as minors, have no criminal record and have either graduated high school, obtained a GED or served in the military, would not be deported.

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