Immigration Coalition, and other experts, Latino voters are expected to be primarily interested in issues affecting the economy and immigration this election season. Education and healthcare are also expected to be issues that these voters pay close attention to. According to Lopez, Latino voters helped determine the 2008 election as well as many state elections. Now that the number of Latino voters in contested states such as Florida, Colorado, North Carolina, and Virginia is on the rise, these voters could have a huge impact on the outcome of the Presidential race.
The main issue for Latino voters this election, experts agree, is the economy. This may be because the economic downturn has hit Latino communities especially hard. Unemployment among Latino workers is two points below the national average and for the first time ever more Latino children live below the poverty line when compared with any other group. In the recession, Latinos lost more wealth than any other group.
While many Latino voters are concerned about the economy, many are also concerned about immigration. In part, this is because it remains an unresolved issue. According to Hong, many Latino voters see stance about immigration issues an indication of how much candidates care about Latino voters and residents. In addition, many voters are concerned because the immigration reforms promised by President Obama never came to pass and instead there has been a record number of deportations under his administration.
However, there still may be widespread support for President Obama because he supports the DREAM Act while Mitt Romney does not. According to Hong, Latino communities support the DREAM Act and do not tend to support legislators who do not.
According to Lopez, Latinos in fact do seem to support President Obama’s campaign in greater numbers. Only Cuban Americans and protestant Latino groups – traditionally conservative communities – do not. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has also meant more support for President Obama, with many families and communities affected by the fact that 100 000 applicants for the program can now seek work authorization and relief from deportation. Many Latinos know someone who is affected by undocumented immigration, so measures such as these designed to help the plight of those who have no status are well-received.
Latino voters may also be more motivated to vote in this year’s election, according to Hong, because voter ID laws and other state legislation has been perceived to be an attempt at disenfranchisement. This may mean more qualified Latino voters show up to cast their ballots.