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Numbers to Watch: the Latino and Immigrant Vote

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This week, the New York Times asked,
Big an Immigrant Vote?”

For all the attention that the presidential
candidates have lavished on potentially useful voter subgroups – Iowans,
Floridians, Christian conservatives, tax-averse plumbers – they have not done
the same for immigrant and Latino voters, a rapidly growing constituency whose
support could be decisive in various battlegrounds on Tuesday.

With its unprecedented size and
level of political engagement this cycle, the Immigrant Vote has grown into one
of the most important new blocs to monitor coming out of this historic election.
 Since numbers are king today, here are a few whoppers to keep in mind as
the results roll in:

1.6 Million: The Latino vote is expected
to increase from 7.6 million in 2004 to 9.2 million this year – an increase of
1.6 million.

  • 8%:
    In 2004, Latinos represented approximately 8% of the overall U.S.
    electorate – a percentage that is expected to be higher in 2008.
  • 44% or 21%:
    Will John McCain’s level of Latino support be closer to the 44% received
    by George W. Bush in 2004 (the high-water mark for Latino support of GOP)
    or the 21% Latino support received by Bob Dole in 1996 (the GOP’s
    low-water mark).
  • 32.4%, 11.4%, and 9.9%: Latinos make up 32.4% of registered voters in New
    Mexico, 11.4% in Nevada and 9.9% in Colorado – key Southwestern
    battleground states in which both presidential campaigns have targeted the
    Latino vote.
  • 16:
    The number of states in which the size of the “New
    Americans” voting bloc
    , defined as immigrant citizens and the
    US-born children of immigrants, exceeds the 2004 victory margins in the
    presidential race – Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa,
    Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New
    York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • 500,463:
    The number of new citizen voters registered by the We Are America Alliance
    in 13 states with large Latino and immigrant populations.
  • 90%:
    recent poll
    from the National Association of Latino Elected and
    Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund found “tremendous
    enthusiasm” among Latino voters in the key battleground states of CO,
    FL, NV, and NM, as nearly 90% of Latino voters say they will vote in this
    year’s presidential election.
  • 93% and 82.8%:
    The Pew Hispanic
    Center recently found
    that 93% of Latino respondents in a nationwide
    poll said that immigration was important to them personally. Similarly,
    82.8% of Latino Evangelical respondents in
    a new poll
    said that a candidate’s position on immigration was
    important in determining their vote – a percentage on par in importance
    with abortion, and more important than same-sex marriage, among this
    conservative voting bloc (60% of whom supported Bush in 2004).

No matter what stories are woven out of this
historic election tomorrow, it’s hard to ignore numbers like these. 

So what’s driving these new voters? The same  New York Times editorial put it well:

Voter mobilization
efforts by groups like the We Are America Alliance, a coalition of community
and immigrant-rights organizations that emerged from the 2005 marches, have now
had three years to ripen. And advocates see a hunger for civic engagement in
immigrant communities, where the chill of xenophobia and the ongoing scandal of
immigration raids and detention deaths remain urgent concerns, even if the rest
of the country is paying little attention.