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Following AZ & FL Primaries, Experts Assess Impact of Latino Voters on 2010 Elections

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New Report Shows Latinos Could Play Decisive Role in 41 Battleground Races in 12 States this November

Washington, DC – Today, leading experts on Latino voter trends and the politics of immigration reform gathered on a conference call to analyze Tuesday’s primary results in Arizona and Florida, and assess the influence of Latino voters and the immigration debate on elections in these states, as well as California, Colorado, Nevada, and other areas in the run-up to November. 

Also today, America’s Voice released a new version of the report, The Power of the Latino Vote in the 2010 Elections, which tracks 41 key races in 12 states where Latino voters are poised to play a decisive role this year.  This previously-issued report, updated through yesterday’s primary results, analyzes trends in Latino voting behavior and provides a detailed analysis of the way the immigration is playing out in these gubernatorial, Senate, and House contests. 

The impact of Latino voters on 2010 races will be a major storyline this cycle – especially in states like Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, and Nevada.  Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, said, “As our report makes clear, Latino voters are poised to influence a number of battleground races across the country.  As primary season wraps up, a trend is emerging where Republican candidates tacked hard right on immigration during the primaries, but are struggling to figure out how to come back to the center in the general election so they can compete for Latino and other swing voters.  We will be watching races in California, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, and elsewhere to see whether Republican candidates can rebuild their image with Latinos, whether Democratic candidates confidently lean into the immigration issue to vie for this constituency, and whether candidates in both parties finally realize that comprehensive immigration reform is a pragmatic position that helps them both win Latino voters and win the middle.”

According to Republican political strategist Ana Navarro, “Intensity surrounding the Arizona immigration law in Republican primaries will decrease in races nationwide as we head into the general election.  These candidates now have to put together a winning formula for November, and that won’t involve antagonizing Hispanic voters.”

While polling shows that many Latinos are disillusioned by the failure to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, the recent controversies over the Arizona SB1070 immigration law and the way that some candidates have embraced punitive immigration policies have also re-energized many Latino voters.  According to Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), “The current debate around immigration is playing a big role in what Latino voters say.  We recently conducted a poll among Latino voters in key states and they told us the issue of immigration increases their likelihood of voting and even influences their selection of candidates.  In fact, when asked what are their top concerns, most of the respondents told us ‘immigration.’  That’s ahead of jobs, the economy, and healthcare, among others.  This is the first time we’ve ever seen immigration top the list of concerns among Latino voters and that is very significant.” 

According to public opinion analyst Fernand Amandi, Vice President of Bendixen & Amandi, “While a harsh immigration position may be a benefit in some Republican primaries in the short term, it’s bad politics for general elections and a scorched-earth strategy for the long-term.”  

The America’s Voice report includes the following analysis: 

  • Races to Watch Where Latino Voters Will Be Key:  The report tracks 41 key races in 12 states—27 U.S. House races, eight U.S. Senate races and six gubernatorial races—and provides statistics and background on Latino voters.  Detailed profiles of the Latino electorate are included for each of these twelve states – AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, NV, NM, NY, PA, TX, and VA.
  • The Role of Immigration in Each Race:  In addition to Latino voter statistics, the report includes a detailed description of the way the candidates’ have been discussing immigration issues in each race profiled in the report.  As recent polling has documented, immigration has jumped to the top of the list of key issues for Latino voters and promises to be a major factor in 2010 races.
  • Nearly One-in-Five Congressional Districts Is At Least 25% Latino:  The report also identifies the 79 congressional districts in which Latinos comprise at least 25% of the population, and a significant number of the voting population as well.  Fifty-four of these seats are currently controlled by Democratic Members of Congress and 25 are controlled by Republican Members of Congress.  These are districts where Latino voters have become a major factor, and where the electorate continues to grow and impact local and national politics.   

Link to The Power of the Latino Vote in the 2010 Elections

Click here for a recording of the call.

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.