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Perhaps the largest minority voting bloc with the biggest impact are Hispanics. Hispanics have quickly become one of the largest demographics in the United States and in recent years have grown significantly in size. In North Carolina alone from 2000 to 2010 the Hispanic population grew 111%. Battleground states that will be determined by only a few hundred votes will make the Democrats and Republicans rely heavily on minority groups such as Hispanics.
However, 58% of Hispanics are unable to vote either because of their citizenship status or their age. Hispanics are also one of the youngest groups in the US with 50,000 Hispanics becoming 18 every month.
Hispanics tend to be liberal leaning but they are not a cohesive voting bloc like other minority groups, and are more likely to vote for a candidate they like than a party. Although all of them may be Hispanic that is where many of the similarities end since many will have different political views based on native country, age, or residence in the US according to The National Journal.
Currently Hispanics support Obama (66%) far more than they support Romney (25%), although 9% are undecided. Hispanics also supported Obama in 2008 at about the same rate as they seem to be for this election. However, Obama’s white voter base has shrunk slightly by 5%.
According to a recent Gallup Poll Immigration, Healthcare, and Unemployment are equally important to the Hispanic voter. In comparison, other registered voter groups have immigration coming in last of issues they deem important. According to Latino Decision immigration is ranked as a higher issue of concern among Latinos from border states like New Mexico.
There are at least twelve of fifteen swing states in which the Hispanic vote will be highly significant. Last presidential election, some of these swing states went to Obama because of the Hispanic vote including Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia, Indiana, and Florida.
And the Hispanic influence will only grow in politics. Robert Suro, Professor of Journalism and Public Policy at the University of Southern California stated, “the discussion of the Latino voter is the discussion of the future of politics, not about this cycle. Where this cycle can have a big difference [is how it] casts trajectories into the future.”
This projection still has not prevented Obama and Romney from catering to the Hispanic vote this year. Hispanic voters are fairly active with 87% of responders in a Latino Decision survey in Florida saying they will definitely be voting in the next election. However, registered Florida Hispanics have declined by ten percent since 2008.
Hispanics face their difficulties in getting to the voting booths this year as well. In Florida Governor Rick Scott is working to purge Florida voter rolls of all who are suspected of being non-citizens by comparing the voter registration rolls to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles’ records. So far at least 180,000 have been flagged as possible non-citizens, 58% of whom are Hispanics and 79% who are registered as Democrats or ‘no-affiliation.’
The Miami Herald reported that in Miami Dade county thirteen registered voters were not citizens and only two had voted in previous elections.
The United States Department of Justice has ordered Rick Scott to stop the voter purges. Although the purges will have a marginal effect on the number of voters it is still expected to affect the mentality of voters and their turnout according to Latino Decision.
Obama leads Romney in the polls, but there are several aspects of his record during his time as president that could hurt his chances. Obama promised to introduce an immigration reform bill in his first year but he still has not. Obama has also been the most aggressive president in regards to deportations since the 1950s. Obama has deported 1.2 million Latinos, 46,000 of whom are parents of American citizens. Since April 2009 until now Obama’s approval rating has dropped 36 points among Latinos.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, seems even worse for Hispanic voters. He has stated that he wants life in the US to be so difficult for illegal immigrants they will self-deport. However, taking Marco Rubio, a Hispanic Senator from Florida, as his Vice President would significantly aid Romney in his campaign, bringing over more of the Hispanic vote.
Obama has won over several Hispanic voters with his executive order that put parts of the Dream Act into effect – a move that 91% of young Hispanics supported. In the process Obama prevented the deportation of nearly a million people brought here as children. Obama stated that these individuals are Americans “in every single way but one: on paper.”
“This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to … patriotic young people. It’s the right thing to do.”
This order is not the DREAM Act exactly because only Congress can pass that but it does allow young Hispanics brought here illegally to have a better chance at getting a job and going to college because they can now get work and study visas. Before this executive order these individuals could not get financial aid for college or be legally employed in the United States. Representative Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, has said that he would challenge the law in court.
The New York Times called the DREAM Act executive order a ‘play’ for more votes from the Hispanic voting bloc. A claim that is not all that far-fetched.