The 2012 Hispanic vote

by David Safier

Hispanics voted in larger percentages in Arizona and across the nation in 2012 than in other recent elections. In Arizona, according to the Capitol Times (subscription only),

Exit polls show Hispanic voters have made up a growing portion of Arizona’s electorate over the past several years. Latinos accounted for 12 percent of the 2004 vote, 16 percent of the 2008 vote and 18 percent of the vote in 2012.

The exit polls also deliver good news for Democrats, as Hispanic voters backed President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney 3-to-1.

The turnout is still below the population percentage: 23% of Arizonans are Hispanic with U.S. citizenship. Unfortunately, the article doesn't dig deeper into the demographics of the Arizona Hispanic community. It would be interesting to see the community broken down by age to determine, say, how the percentage of 18-29 year old Hispanic voters compares to 18-29 year olds in the Anglo population. Since the Hispanic population is younger than the Anglo population, that would tend to lower the voting percentages since younger people are less likely to vote.

The NY Times has an article about the get-out-the-vote push by Hispanic media and grass-roots organizations on a national level.

In countless households, Latinos tuned their television sets to Univision and heard Jorge Ramos, the host of “Al Punto,” the Spanish version of “Meet the Press,” discuss the candidates’ positions on issues critical to them. They switched on Spanish-language radio and heard myriad reasons their vote could spur change.

And if voters in some battleground areas needed a ride to the polls, television and radio stations owned by Entravision Communications, Univision’s largest affiliate, offered those, too.

The drumbeat lasted months.

Univision, which reaches 96 percent of all Hispanic households; Telemundo, the second-largest network; and their affiliates ran information about the election and the issues regularly. And not just on newscasts, but also on their most popular news programs. They sponsored hundreds of public service announcements, giving Latinos local information on where to register and vote. The effort, by and large, was nonpartisan.

The efforts to register Hispanics, inform them about the issues and get them to the polls is a welcome counter to the Republican voter suppression efforts. You can understand why the Rs want to suppress a population that voted 71% for Obama. And you can also understand why the suppression efforts may have backfired, giving many people more reason to get themselves, their relatives and their friends to the polls. In more ways than one, the Republicans may be shooting themselves in the foot by alienating  sectors of the population, like the Hispanic community, which are growing in numbers and in influence.

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