Alberto Rebolldo casts his ballot in the midterm elections at Harts Coin Laundry in Chicago. REUTERS/John Gress
by Shannon K. O’Neil, Council on Foreign Relations
A recent Pew Hispanic Center report on trends in Latino voter participation counts a record 24 million Latinos as eligible to vote in NovemberÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s presidential election (11 percent of all potential voters). It also finds that Latinos are particularly important in several battleground states. Their rising numbers and geographic concentration suggest that if and how Latinos vote on November 6 could determine the race.
While a large voting bloc for several election cycles now, Latinos have yet to fully wield their potential political power. Part of the reason is turnoutÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Âfew Latinos make it to the polls on Election Day. In 2008 only half of eligible Latino voters cast ballots versus 65 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites.
Latinos are also a heterogeneous bunch with vast differences across the population; for instance the priorities of FloridaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s conservative Cuban base are vastly different from ArizonaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s predominantly Mexican-American constituency. Complicating political appeals even further, a recent Gallup poll shows that LatinosÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ political priorities differ by generation. As shown in the chart below, foreign born Latinos care most about economic growth, second generation citizens focus on unemployment, and third generation members prioritize healthcare… Read More