WASHINGTON – Hispanics once again will be a key swing vote in the presidential election in states like Florida, but they also could sway the outcome in places with small Latino communities such as Virginia, according to a study presented Thursday by immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice.
Several researchers and statistics experts on Thursday unveiled a model aimed at measuring the influence Latino voters will have on the Nov. 6 election results.
The method developed by polling firm Latino Decisions and America’s Voice Education Fund will gauge the Hispanic community’s expected influence over the balloting as Election Day approaches, although the researchers already have identified certain trends.
The Latino vote is “extremely influential” in Florida, a key state in previous elections and one where Hispanics make up 16 percent of the traditionally polarized electorate, the experts say.
The coordinator of the study, the University of Washington’s Matt Barreto, said on a conference call that Hispanics played a decisive role in that state in the last two presidential elections.
Republican George W. Bush garnered 56 percent of the Latino vote to win Florida in 2004, while Democrat Barack Obama was supported by 57 percent of Hispanics when he captured the state in 2008.
The study also forecasts a key role for small Latino communities in states where the electorate is nearly equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.
The Hispanic vote, for instance, is expected to be crucial in states such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington and North Carolina, where a close contest is anticipated between Obama and the Republican nominee.
In that same vein, America’s Voice recalled the influence exerted by the Latino population in 2008 in Indiana and North Carolina.
The researchers acknowledge that the results of their model will evolve in the coming months depending on Hispanic voters’ enthusiasm and Republicans’ ability to win their support, among other factors, one of the researchers involved in designing the framework, Justin Gross, said.
The states selected for study were chosen either because neither the Republicans or Democrats enjoy a sizable lead in the polls, the state has a statewide election of interest or they have a large or emerging and potentially decisive Latino electorate.
Hispanic voters make up 37.9 percent of the total electorate in New Mexico, 25.5 percent in California, 14.2 percent in Nevada and 13.1 percent in Colorado.
Over the next several weeks, researchers will update their picture of Hispanic voters’ expected impact on the elections by incorporating the results of voter-preference surveys, statistics on the percentage of Latino voters and electoral trends.
Gross noted, however, that “elections are always unpredictable.” EFE