The New York Times ran articles the last couple of days glumly evaluating the Latino vote – Latinos are less likely to vote than whites or blacks, and they might not turn out for the presidential election due to disappointment with President Barack Obama and dislike of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
The Latino vote, though, should be significantly more impactful than it was in 2008, with voters probably turning to Obama.
The Times points out that just 10 million of the nation’s 21 million eligible Latino voters are registered and even fewer actually vote.
But even with relatively low voter registration, a sharp increase in the Latino adult age population should mean more votes. A study last year from the National Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) projected that come November there will be 12.3 million Latino voters, a 26 percent jump from 2008. About 8.7 percent of all voters will be Latino, NALEO projects.
In Illinois, the number of Latino voters is predicted to skyrocket to 37.8 percent or 433,000 voters, which would be 7.8 percent of every Illinoisan who casts a ballot. As we reported, local advocacy groups like the Illinois Coalition on Immigrant and Refugee Rights anticipate greater Latino influence this year in the presidential election as well as Chicago area Congressional races.
The NYT also reports that Latino voters are presumably disenchanted with Obama.
The president could not get Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul on immigration policy as well as the DREAM Act, which would have provided citizenship to many children of undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, Obama presided over a precipitous rise in immigrant deportations.
But there is not evidence these are damning factors.
A poll done in five states released in May by Beck Research, a Democratic-leaning polling firm, found that the top three most important issues for Latino voters were jobs and the economy, K-12 education, and a reform of immigration policy — in that order.
A May Fox News Latino poll of 1,200 Latino voters nationwide found that 50 percent said jobs and the economy were the top issues, while 12 percent said immigration was the number one concern.
Other polls, like a January survey by Univision News and the Latino Decisions polling firm did find that Latino voters are likely to judge candidates based on the economy and education. Still, immigration is hardly a monomaniacal focus for Latino voters.
Also, the Latino Decisions January poll showed that 64 percent of voters approve of the job Obama is doing. By comparison, 29 percent of these voters approve of the job Congress is doing.
Initial polls show Obama comfortably ahead of Romney among the Latino vote. The president launched a Latinos for Obama outreach campaign in April. On his list of accomplishments, Obama mentions immigration policies, but also focuses on economic issues such as expanding the earned income tax credit for working families.
Romney, meanwhile, announced a Hispanic Steering Committee last week to court Latino voters.