Wooing The Latino Voter

Candidate Barack Obama speaks before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) in Washington in 2008. Photo: UPI
Wealth, Immigration, Faith and Family

 

Candidate Barack Obama in 2008

As the largest ethnic group in America, Latino-Americans have become a force to be reckoned with politically.

According to a Pew Research Center study, 56% of registered voters who identified themselves as Latino voted in 2008. And 15% of them donated money to a political candidate.

With Latino-Americans now holding the second biggest share of the U.S. population, at 16.3% according to the 2010 Census, politicians have a slim chance of election without securing the Latino vote. Their power is enhanced by the concentration of the population in key electoral states like California, Texas, Florida and New York.

In past elections, Latino voters made their identification with the Democratic Party abundantly clear. According to a Pew study, 61% of Latino voters voted for Bill Clinton for president in 1992, and 72% voted for his reelection four years later. They voted for Al Gore by a 62% margin, and supported John Kerry by 58%. Candidate Barack Obama did even better, getting 67% of the Latino vote in 2008.

Few Latino votes were swayed towards the GOP during the Bush presidential years. A 70% majority of Latino voters said they were dissatisfied with the country’s direction at the end of Bush’s second term, according to a 2008 Pew study. And a large chunk, 38%, thought that the situation for Latinos had worsened in his last year in office.

Clearly, the Democratic Party has held Latino vote securely for some time, with a 65% majority identifying as Democrats, and almost as many, 55%, saying that the Democratic Party is better for Latinos than the Republican Party, according to another Pew study.

But it wouldn’t do to take them for granted.

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