Focus on Latino Voters Kicks Off 2012 Election Season

Journalist and political analyst Juan Williams penned an OpEd for the The Hill highlighting the uniqueness of the 2012 campaign. The new presidential election cycle officially started with major ad buys by Republicans and Democrats discussing the economy —  in Spanish.

The new early focus on Latinos has much to do with some political realities.

Electoral College vote map of Larry Sabato

1) Battleground States: Latinos make up key constituencies in major “battleground states” like Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, Virginia and Colorado. The political ads aired in English and Spanish targeting major media markets in these swing states.  Latinos make up 14% of Nevada electorate, 38% of New Mexico voters and 13% of voters in Colorado. (Pew Hispanic Center)

2) Open Opportunity: Roughly 22 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote in 2012. Latino voter turnout is projected to reach a record 12 million. While these voters tend to register Democrat, they have been a swing vote, securing victories for Republicans and Democrats.

3) Voters Remorse?: Latinos aren’t happy with President Obama. While Obama carried the Hispanic vote by a 2-to-1 margin in 2008,  support for Obama among Hispanics has been steadily declining. A recent poll showed his approval among Latinos had dropped by 30 points to 52%. Many Latinos are disappointed with the President due to broken promises on immigration and the failing economy.

Due to these points, and various others, both political parties are ready to spend millions wooing Latino voters in hopes to claim victory in 2012. The fact is, according to the U.S. Census, one in about every six U.S. residents is Hispanic. The Latino electorate will only get bigger in years to come. Neither party can afford to repeat mistakes from the past.

Read the full Juan Williams article via this link The Hill: OPINION: Latin beat marks the opening shot in 2012 election campaign

“…This early battle over the Hispanic vote reveals strategic thinking about how tight the presidential contest looks to be in November 2012. Another telltale sign is that last week, in the middle of the intense debt-ceiling debate, President Obama kept his promise to speak at the annual convention of the Hispanic leadership group La Raza.

The Obama campaign ad will air in Reno, Nev.; Las Vegas; Tampa , Orlando and Miami, Fla.; Denver; Washington (aimed at the Maryland and Virginia market); and Albuquerque, N.M.

The competing RNC ad aimed at Hispanic voters is titled “Change Directions.” In the ad, a little Hispanic girl, sitting on a couch looking worried, is watching the news. A voice, purportedly commenting in 2017 on the end of Obama’s second term, says: “Eight years ago we were promised hope — today many believe our American dream has been lost.”…

…Before Obama’s triumph in 2008, the GOP was gaining with Hispanics thanks to the popularity of President Bush. After winning only 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2000, the Republican incumbent was able to claim 45 percent in 2004. The GOP squandered those gains in 2006, 2008 and 2010 by embracing hard-line positions on immigration that antagonized Hispanic voters.The big question now is whether creeping frustration and pessimism about the economy is enough to push Hispanic voters out of the Obama camp and into the arms of the GOP candidate next year…”

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