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The Latino Vote

When comparing the Press Releases the Pew Hispanic sent out on October 5, 2010 and on November 3, 2010, one cannot but wonder. What is exactly the Latino vote? And do people really understand this Latino vote?

The Pew announced prior to the Congressional Elections that their research indicated that “65% of Latino registered voters say they plan to support the Democratic candidate in their local congressional district.” The findings pointed towards the prediction that in a year when support for Democratic candidates has eroded, the party’s standing among one key voting group—Latinos—appeared as strong as ever.

One month later, for Tuesday’s midterm elections, Hispanic vote makes history. For the first time ever, three Latino  candidates – all of them Republicans – won top statewide offices. In New Mexico, voters elected the nation’s first Latina governor, Republican Susana Martinez. In Nevada, Republican Brian Sandoval won the governor’s race and became Nevada’s first Hispanic governor. And in Florida, Republican Marco Rubio won the U.S. Senate race.

How much does this research predict what Latinos think in politics or who they will support? Everybody seems to believe that immigration is at the forefront in the Hispanic agenda. This survey shows that immigration does not rank as a top voting issue for Hispanics. Rather, they rank education, jobs and health care as their top three issues of concern for this year’s congressional campaign. Immigration ranks as the fifth most important issue for Latino registered voters and as the fourth most important issue for all Latinos.

Among the report’s other findings:

-Majorities of almost all demographic groups of Latino registered voters say they will vote for the Democratic Party candidate in their local congressional election Nov. 2. Only among Republican Latino registered voters does a majority (74%) say they will support the Republican congressional candidate.

-Some groups of Latino registered voters are more motivated than others to vote this year. More than six-in-ten (62%) of those who are ages 50 to 64 are absolutely certain they will vote, as are 61% of those who have at least some college education, 58% of those who are English dominant and 58% of Latino registered voters ages 65 or older.

-Fewer than four-in-ten (38%) of Latino registered voters who are Spanish dominant say they are absolutely certain to vote this year. This is lower than any other demographic group of Latino registered voters.

-Some six-in-ten (59%) Latino registered voters are dissatisfied with the direction the country is headed, down from 70% in July 2008 (Lopez and Minushkin, 2008a).

-Two-thirds (66%) of Latino registered voters say they talked about the immigration policy debate in the past year with someone they know.The report, based on a national survey of 1,375 Hispanic adults, including 618 registered voters, looks at Latinos’ partisan preferences in the congressional elections; their party identification; their level of voter motivation; and the issues they identify as important in the upcoming elections.

I believe that people should stop looking at Hispanics as one whole block where they all vote the same. Latinos are as varied as they come and their political preferences match their upbringing, the current situation, their education level, their country of origin’s political history and how it affected them and their acculturation levels.

by Claudia “Havi” Goffan