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Add Iowa To List of Battleground State Where Latino Voters Will Play Pivotal Role

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 As we’ve reported, while Mitt Romney was campaigning in Iowa last week, he sidled up to one of the most egregiously anti-immigrant members of Congress, Steve King. In fact, Romney offered a full endorsement of King’s reelection to Congress stating that ” I want him as my partner in Washington.” The night before Romney’s endorsement, King claimed that comparing immigrants to dogs was a compliment.

And, as we note in the post below, Romney is trying to create some distance between himself and King. But, they’ve got the same positions on immigration reform. As that post notes, “The problem is that the distinction between Romney and Steve King is a matter of tone, not substance.”

Iowa is considered a battleground state in the 2012 election. And, one key factor that is often overlooked in the Hawkeye State is the growing Latino vote. AP examines this development in an article titled Latino population growth could have impact in Iowa:

In Iowa, behind a population boom and an influx of newly enfranchised citizens, the number of Latino voters is expected to increase in November, bringing a new sense of importance and more campaign attention to a part of the electorate that has been little noticed in many states. Nobody knows how many more Latinos will vote in Iowa, but the League of Latino United Citizens, or LULAC, which is conducting a major registration drive, is aiming to boost Latino turnout in Iowa from the 35,000 in 2008 to 50,000 this time, or about 3 percent of the state’s overall total.

Even such a modest share could be meaningful if the race in Iowa is close, as recent polls suggest it could be, and if the Democratic president carries the two out of three Latino votes that he did in 2008. Republicans working for Mitt Romney’s campaign are trying to reduce Obama’s advantage, as both parties woo Latinos in a place typically portrayed as an all-white farming state and that is now one of the key Midwestern battlegrounds that will determine the election’s outcome.

Iowa’s Latino population, though far smaller than the Sunbelt states, increased 84 percent from 2000 to 2010 to more than 151,000. That’s about 5 percent of the state’s overall total. It’s a similar story in other key toss-up states, with the Hispanic population rising to about 8 percent in North Carolina and Virginia. Ohio’s Latino population is 3.1 percent but has grown by 63 percent since 2000.

Yes, Iowa is another state where the Latino vote matters. For additional information, click on Iowa on our Latino Vote Map.

As we know from Latino Decisions polling, immigration is a core issue for many Latino voters. And, last week, in Iowa, Mitt Romney was joined at the hip with Steve King. That sent a powerful signal to Latino voters across the country — and in Iowa. No wonder Romney is trying to back away.