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“State Spotlight Series: Immigration, Latino Voters and the 2012 Elections” New Fact Sheets on Florida and Arizona

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Today, America’s Voice is releasing the second and third installments of our “State Spotlight: Immigration, Latino Voters, and the 2012 Elections” series with analyses of Latino electoral politics in Florida and Arizona.  Today’s fact sheets follow an earlier installment about Nevada, and in the coming weeks America’s Voice will release additional fact sheets highlighting the role of the Latino vote in states like Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia.

The Florida and Arizona fact sheets include a snapshot of recent polling of Latino voters in those states, an updated look at their Latino populations, estimates of the Latino share of eligible and registered voters, a look at 2012 competitive Senate and House races, competitive state congressional races, a look back at Latino voters’ roles in previous elections in the two states, and access to an interactive map that will let users view for themselves how fluctuations in Latino turnout could swing elections in these states and other states.

View the full fact sheet for Florida here, and the full fact sheet for Arizona here.  A synopsis follows below:


Florida is a “virtual tie” in this year’s general election—but one that leans slightly toward Obama. The median estimate for Latino turnout in Florida, based on registration and Census data, is 16.8% percent of the electorate. If Romney gets the 37% of Florida Latino votes in November that he got in the Latino Decisions poll in May, and 16.8% of Florida voters are Latinos, Obama will win 47.3% of all votes in the state, with Romney winning 46.3%:

However, as Latino Decisions’ Matt Barreto has written, “even small fluctuations in the Latino vote have a profound impact on the presidential election results” in Florida—and by extension, the entire presidential race.  Barreto says that Florida, like Colorado and Nevada, is a state where “if Latino voter turnout decreases, Barack Obama loses his lead to Mitt Romney.  Or, if turnout stays at expected levels but Romney gains 10-15 points among Latino voters, he wins all three of these key battlegrounds and their combined 44 electoral college votes.”

Turnout might be a problem for Democrats in Florida. Governor Rick Scott’s (R) efforts to “purge” the voter rolls (supposedly in response to fears of non-citizens voting, which is a nonexistent problem) are likely to result in citizens being mistakenly prevented from voting. Furthermore, citizens who feel their rights are under attack may feel intimidated away from voting, depressing turnout among Latinos even more. Even if Romney is not able to improve on his current level of support among Latinos and gets 37% of the Florida Latino vote, if the Latino share of the Florida electorate falls to 12%, Romney would pull even with Obama in the state (46.9% apiece).


Florida Latinos By The Numbers


Latinos in Florida (2010 Census)


Growth in Latino Population, 2000-2010 (2010 Census)


Latino Proportion of Eligible Voters (projection via William Frey/Ruy Teixeira, 2012)


Latino Proportion of Registered Voters (projection via Latino Decisions, 2012)

What happens if Latinos are 16.8% of the Florida electorate in November (the median estimate) AND Mitt Romney wins 37% of Florida Latino votes (what a May Latino Decisions poll projected): Obama wins Florida 47.3% to Romney’s 46.3%:

What happens if Latino voters do not turn out, or if they are intimidated away from the polls by voter suppression laws, and the Latino share of the electorate falls to 12%: Obama and Romney tie in Florida, 46.9%



Arizona Latinos By The Numbers


Latinos in Arizona (2010 Census)


Growth in Latino Population, 2000-2010 (2010 Census)


Latino Proportion of Eligible Voters (projection via William Frey/Ruy Teixeira, 2012)


Latino Proportion of Registered Voters (projection via Latino Decisions, 2012)

The Latino Vote Map currently labels Arizona as “leaning Romney.” Based on registration and census data, its median estimate is that Latinos will make up 18.4% of the Arizona electorate. Assuming that Romney wins 18% of the Latino vote in Arizona, consistent with the June Latino Decisions poll, and that 18.4% of all voters in the state are Latino, Romney will defeat Obama in Arizona with 46.6% of the statewide vote to Obama’s 45.2%:

If these conditions hold, Latinos alone will not have enough voting power in 2012 to turn the state blue.  However, according to Matt Barreto, because of the size of Arizona’s Latino electorate, “slight changes” in turnout or voter preference “could push (Arizona) squarely into battleground range.”

If the share of Latinos voting for Romney in Arizona dips only slightly, from 18% to 16%, and turnout increases to 19.4% of the electorate, Obama can pull even with Romney in the state, with each receiving 45.9% of the vote:

However, Arizona–like Florida–is likely to see attempts to suppress the Latino vote. In 2010, one anti-immigrant group’s effort to recruit vigilante “poll watchers” led the led the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to send federal election monitors to Maricopa County. If such efforts are repeated in November and succeed in depressing Latino turnout, Romney’s victory will be relatively assured.

View the full fact sheets for Nevada, Florida, and Arizona.