Experts: Hispanics to play increased role in upcoming election


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Latino voters are expected to have an increased turnout on Election Day, according to a recent report, but some officials say they are one of many groups that could have a decisive role in deciding the next president of the United States.

After creating a ratio from their calculations and considering the trend of the increasing population among Latinos, the U.S. Center for Immigration Studies projected Latinos will be 8.9 percent of electorate in 2012, a 1.5 percentage increase from 2008.

One official at the Center for Immigration Studies said the fraction of eligible Latino voters has increased over time.

“The Latino population has been increasing in the United States as a result of immigration and above-replacement-level fertility,” said Steven Camarota, the director of research at the center.

With an increased number of Latino voters in a close presidential election, some think they may play a big role.

“In a close election, Latinos might well play a very significant or decisive role,” Camarota said. “But the same could be said about of almost any demographic.”

One political expert said Latinos do not tend to vote for one specific party and this makes them a focus area for the candidates.

“Unlike black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for the Democrats, Latinos aren’t as monolithic in their voting,” University of Iowa political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle said. “They do tend to support Democrats more than Republicans, but depending on the candidate, there is a fairly good variations in terms of how much of their votes will go to the Republicans versus the Democrats.”

The Latino population will be center stage today with the opening of the Democratic National Convention. According to an Obama for America press release, the Iowa Latinos for Obama Lideres Council members and supporters are hosting viewing parties in 10 Iowa cities to watch San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro deliver the keynote speech tonight. Events are being held in Waterloo, West Liberty, and Bettendorf, among others.

Latinos make up 5.2 percent of Iowa’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That percentage is 16.7 nationally.

The population of Latino students at the UI has increased over the past several years from 886 in spring 2010 to 1,236 students in spring of 2012, according to the Registrar’s Office.

“I think [Latinos] will determine whether or not Obama gets re-elected,” UI junior Andy Garcia said.

While Latino votes are up for grabs, Hagle said, it is too early to say which groups will play a major role in the election.

“There will be messages sent to all those groups by various campaigns and interested parties. [The parties] will be trying to get more voters from that group over to their side by tailoring their message to them,” he said. “With Latinos, a lot of messages will deal with family values because that’s very important for a lot of Latinos.”

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