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Could Latino Voters Decide Close Races in Georgia and Kansas?

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As the Monkey Cage blog wrote yesterday, “When one thinks of states with growing Latino populations rarely do Georgia or Kansas come to mind.” But that’s no longer the case.

At the beginning of this election cycle, both Georgia and Kansas were expected to be easy Republican wins, but clear victories in those states are proving to be much more difficult — thanks to the growing (and previously underestimated) Latino vote.

Monkey Cage writes:

The 2013 U.S. Census estimates of the Latino segments of the Georgia (9.2 percent) and Kansas (11.2 percent) populations are below the Latino national share (17.1 percent). However, between 2000 and 2010 the Latino population in Kansas grew by 59 percent (188,252 to 300,042) and in Georgia the number of Latinos increased by 96 percent (435,227 to 843,689).

Latino Decisions agrees. While the Latino vote in Georgia and Kansas is below the Latino national share, the close nature of the races put the growing voter bloc in play.

Other states like Georgia and Kansas which small but growing Latino populations have competitive races for both Senate and Governor that could all be decided by less than 1%… In 2014, battleground states of Kansas and Georgia had 575% and 438% growth respectively.

And Latino Decisions highlights the driving factors behind these trends.

These dramatic trends are being driven by immigration flows 25 years ago in which many immigrants are now finally eligible and pursing naturalization and entering the electorate.  Further, the number of U.S. born Latinos turning 18 and entering the electorate is increasing by the month.

So what does this mean for 2014? David Damore of Monkey Cage writes.

Many forecasting models have the Democratic candidates favored, albeit slightly, to win the Kansas governorship and the U.S. Senate race in Georgia, while the Democratic gubernatorial candidate is in striking distance of the incumbent Republican. Meanwhile, long time Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is in the fight of his life against an insurgent independent candidate, Greg Orman.

And it’s not just Georgia and Kansas where the demographics are relentlessly changing. Here’s a chart from Latino Decisions demonstrating the growth in the Latino vote between 2000 and 2012. (And don’t forget, according to NCLR, on average 70,000 U.S. born Latino citizens will turn 18 every single month and are eligible to vote.)