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Latino Voters Poised to Make a Difference in 2010

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Latino voters have the power to change the outcome of a number of crucial races in 2010. Experts agree on this point, but the question is whether or not they will stay home or vote on November 2nd and beyond.

Recently, polls have been attempting to probe that all-important question of turnout. Here’s one prediction, as reported by the New York Times:

A poll released Tuesday found that even though Latinos strongly back Democrats over Republicans, 65 percent to 22 percent, in the Congressional elections just four weeks away, only 51 percent of Latino registered voters said they would absolutely go to the polls, compared with 70 percent of all registered voters.

However, this number is challenged by other polls. Take, for instance, the latest Latino Decisions research, which identifies 73% of Latino voters as “almost certain” they will go to the polls.

So, what exactly is going on here? 

Well, it’s notoriously difficult to predict Election Day turnout by asking people whether they plan to vote weeks or months before an election.  Massive voter mobilization efforts targeting Latinos and naturalized citizens are just now kicking into high gear.  And the Pew Hispanic Center poll was conducted from mid-August to mid-September, while the Latino Decisions research is much more recent—and shows an uptick in voter interest following the September congressional session.

We’ll have to wait until November 3rd to answer the pressing question of Latino turnout, but for now, here are a few factors that will influence the result: