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Latino Vote May Not Be Low in Midterms After All

Although Latino voters generally prefer Democratic candidates, reports of low enthusiasm among registered voters a few weeks ago seemed to indicate that few Latinos would show up at the polls on Nov. 2. But don’t count Latino voters out yet, Latino Decisions’ Matt Barreto and America’s Voice’s Frank Sharry said during a conference call today.

Barreto pointed to a new poll out today from Latino Decisions that shows climbing enthusiasm from Latino voters, particularly among those likely to vote for Democrats. While about 40 percent of Latinos said they were very enthusiastic about voting in the midterms a month ago, last week that figure rose to 58 percent. “These may indicate that the Latino vote is no longer a sleeping giant but a looming giant that will continue to play a part in an increasing number of races,” Sharry said.

Latino Decisions has a useful graph tracking the enthusiasm progression:

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.washingtonindependent.com/LatinoDecisions-416x224.png

Democrats have an advantage: Polling indicates Democrat-favoring Latino voters are more likely to be enthusiastic about the Nov. 2 elections than Republican-favoring voters. Barreto attributed this to anti-immigrant rhetoric made by many Republican politicians. “If you are a Republican who is a Latino, you’re probably less excited about your party this year than, say, the Tea Party is.”

Barreto and Sherry said the midterms have created a perfect storm to push Latino voters to support Democrats in certain states. Republicans have increasingly pushed for anti-immigration laws that some consider anti-Latino, and meanwhile some Democrats have reasserted their support for immigration reform measures. Immigration is consistently among the top issues listed as a priority by Latino voters, although generally jobs and the economy are considered more important.

Democrats have failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform, or even smaller legislation such as the DREAM Act, which means Latino voters aren’t necessarily favoring them out of support for their action over the past two years. But Republicans are generally considered to be the greater of two evils. “The current enthusiasm is much more related to opposition to Republicans and the possibility of Republican control of the House and the Senate,” he said.

President Obama made a similar argument against Republicans during an interview aired today on Univision’s “Piolin por la Manana,” where he was asked why Latinos should support him despite his failure to enact immigration reform. “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder [to pass reform], and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on Nov. 2,” he said during the interview.

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