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The Numbers and Facts on Latino Voters, Latino Polling, and Immigration

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With Latino voters playing such a critical role in the 2012 political cycle, we offer some important numbers regarding Latino voter projections, Latino polling and methodology, and the relationship between Latino voter behavior and immigration:

  • 74% to 26%: Latino Decisions’ LD Vote Predict projection tool now predicts that President Obama will beat Mitt Romney by a 74%-26% margin among Latino voters nationwide.
  • 38%: The Latino vote benchmark the Romney campaign set for itself, as touted by Hispanic Leadership Team co-chair Jose Fuentes.
  • 6 points or 48 points?  Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions writes how some polls get the Latino vote and others don’t.  For example, “Monmouth University released a poll in which Romney leads Obama 48% to 45%.  Among Latinos, they report Obama leads by just 6 points – 48% to 42%.”  Barreto contrasts the Monmouth poll with eight other national polls of Latino voters conducted in October – from impreMedia/Latino Decisions, NBC/Telemundo, CNN/ORC, and the Pew Hispanic Center.  The average of these eight polls shows a whopping 48-point advantage for Obama – 70.3% to 21.9% for Romney – among Latino voters across the country.  So, what to do and how to make sense of the varying polls?  Latino Decisions thankfully provides a detailed explanation of what makes for solid methodology in Latino polling.  The keys: sufficient sample sizes; survey a representative sample of the Latino population within the state or nationally; and conduct a representative number of interviews in Spanish.
  • “As much as 4 full points”:  Barreto writes that not only can the methodological errors listed above skew Latino-focused polls, but they also can “create problems with the overall national estimates.”  Barreto provides a scenario for the 2012 electorate in which Latino voters comprise a round 10% of the electorate and uses the Monmouth poll and the average of the 8 Latino-focused polls to make his point: “If Latinos are only leaning to Obama 48-42, that +6 edge among 10% of the electorate only contributes a net 0.6 advantage to Obama (4.8 for Obama to 4.2 for Romney).  However, if instead Obama is leading 70.3 to 21.9 that +48.4 edge contributes a net 4.8 advantage to Obama (7.0 to 2.2), hence the national polls may be missing as much as 4 full points in Obama’s national numbers.”
  • 12.2 million: NALEO projects that Latino voter turnout in the 2012 elections will reach an all-time high of 12.2 million voters.
  • 26%: According to NALEO, the 12.2 million figure would represent a 26% increase from the 2008 elections, when 9.7 million Latinos voted.
  • 8.7%: According to the NALEO projections, Latino voters will comprise 8.7% of the national electorate in 2012, including 16.7% in Arizona, 11% in Colorado, 13.9% in Florida, 33.8% in New Mexico, and 13.5% in Nevada.
  • 2013 and Immigration: Thanks in large part to the growth and the potentially pivotal role played by Latino voters in 2012, immigration reform is poised to be a major part of the post-election storyline and a top item on the “What’s Next in Washington?” agenda.  In newly-released comments from his previously off-the-record conversation with the Des Moines Register editorial board, President Obama stated, “The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform.  And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt.  Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.  And this is a relatively new phenomenon.  George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America.  And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done.  And I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I’ve cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008.”