The 2012 elections demonstrate that Latino and new citizen voters are changing politics. In 2012, Latino voters turned out like never before, comprising an estimated 10% of the overall electorate. This heavy Latino turnout, combined with the historic 75%-23% margin in favor of President Obama over Mitt Romney, was one of the keys to President Obama’s re-election and kept the Senate in Democratic hands yet again. Latino voters’ impact was felt not only in traditionally Latino-heavy states (such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas) but also in other battleground states with relatively newer and smaller Latino populations (such as Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia).
On a webinar today, pollsters, national Latino leaders and immigration experts discussed the 2012 election results and lifted up new election-eve polling from ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions, which showed just how influential Latino voters and the immigration issue were in determining the final results. In addition to nationwide poll numbers, data on Latino voters’ preferences and voting decisions are also available from Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. See the topline data here, crosstabs here, and graphs and charts here.
Said Gary Segura, Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies at Stanford University and Principal at Latino Decisions, “The most historic thing in this election is that for the first time in history, the share of the national popular vote margin is smaller than the Latino vote margin. That means that if Latinos had evenly divided their vote between both Candidates, the outcomes would be reversed.”
Among the poll’s findings:
Latinos Influence the Outcomes of National and State Races
- In the presidential race, 75% of Latinos voted for President Obama, while 23% voted for Mitt Romney.
- In U.S. Senate races, 72% of Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate, while 27% voted for the Republican.
- In U.S. House races, 77% of Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate in their district, while 23% voted for the Republican.
Latino Voters Have A Lot at Stake in 2012
- 53% of Latinos said that fixing the economy and creating more jobs was the most important issue facing the Latino community that Congress and the President should address. This was followed by 35% who said the same about immigration reform and the DREAM Act, 20% who said education reform, and 14% who said health care. In two states (Arizona and North Carolina), immigration was either tied or above the economy.
- When asked about the best approach to reduce the 1.4 trillion dollar deficit, 12% said only spending cuts, 35% said raising taxes on the wealthy and 42% said a combination of both.
- On the Affordable Care Act, 61% said it should be left to stand as law and 25% said it should be repealed. When further pressed on health care, and asked “do you think the federal government should play a role to ensure that all people have access to insurance, or do you think it is better for people to be responsible for getting their own health insurance,” 66% said that the “government should ensure,” 25% said “people should get their own,” 2% said “none of these,” and 3% said “something else.”
Candidates’ Positions on Latino Issues Weigh Heavily on the Minds of Latino Voters
- 66% of Latinos said that Obama “truly cares” about the Latino community, 23% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 3% said he “was being hostile.” Meanwhile, 14% of respondents said that Romney “truly cares” about the Latino community, 56% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 18% said he “was being hostile.”
- After hearing about President Obama’s deferred action policy, 58% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting for Obama and 6% said that they were “less enthusiastic.” Meanwhile, after hearing about Mitt Romney’s campaign platform of “self-deportation” and learning that he would not revoke deferred action for DREAMers whose applications are approved under Obama but would stop approving new applications once he is elected, 7% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about Romney and 57% of respondents said that they were “less enthusiastic.”
- If the Republican Party “took a leadership role in supporting comprehensive immigration reform, with an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Republicans worked to ensure it would pass,” 31% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote Republican, 11% said they would be less likely and 48% said it would have no effect on their vote. Importantly, this includes nearly 20% of Latinos who voted for Obama this year.
The Two Parties are Starting to Realize that Latino Voters Matter, and the Issues Matter to Latinos
- 31% said that they had been contacted by someone from a campaign, political party or community organization asking from them to vote or register to vote. Of those, 59% said they were contacted by Democrats, 39% said Republicans, and 33% said community organizations from both parties.
- 36% of respondents said that they voted in 2012 because they wanted to support and represent the Latino community, 39% they voted to support the Democratic candidate and 15% said they voted to support Republican.
- 57% of Latinos said that they think of themselves as Democrats, 14% as Republicans, 20% as Independents, 4% said “other party,” and 5% said “don’t know.”
For the full poll national and battleground state poll results, click here.
Eliseo Medina, Secretary-Treasurer at the Service Employees International Union, has been leading efforts in Latino voter mobilization battleground states around the country. On today’s call, he remarked: “The Latino giant is wide awake and cranky, and Mitt Romney and the GOP paid the price. Yesterday, Latinos helped elect a president. We are now a part of history and of the political future of this country. The election sends a signal that if Republicans want to be a viable political party in the future, they need to get right with Latinos. They have to support comprehensive immigration reform. If immigration reform is not done in 2013, politicians who stand in the way will suffer the consequences in the 2014 election.”
“NALEO Educational Fund projected that 12.2 million Latinos would cast ballots in this election, a historic record,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO Educational Fund. “Latino voters played a key role in shaping the nation’s political landscape last night, demonstrating for the fourth presidential election in a row that the race for the White House was heavily decided by the Latino electorate.”
According to Clarissa Martinez, Director, Civic Engagement and Immigration at the National Council of La Raza, “Latino voters confirmed unequivocally that the road to the White House goes through Hispanic neighborhoods. Our community cares deeply about restoring the American Dream for all, expanding economic opportunity, and resolving immigration once and for all. The real work on common sense solutions begins now, and Latinos will be a powerful ally in moving the nation forward together.”
“From negative campaigning to voter-suppression laws, this election cycle has been characterized by extreme pessimism and anti-democratic actions, yet Latino voters have responded with great optimism about the future of our country,” said Ben Monterroso, National Executive Director for Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. “This is a sign that if invited and if informed, Latinos will participate in our democratic process, making them a core-voting bloc of the American electorate. The 2012 election is a story of the Latino arrival; an optimistic group of voters who are playing a key role in rebuilding this country and trusting government to play a role.”
Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said, “The GOP’s lurch to the right on immigration destroyed their chances of re-taking the White House and the Senate. Obama leaned into the issue by protecting DREAMers, a move that mobilized Latino voters and did not hurt him with swing voters. As a result, the 2012 election is a game-changer. It produced a mandate for immigration reform.”
- Toplines: impreMedia/Latino Decisions election eve state by state polling
- Crosstabs: impreMedia/Latino Decisions election eve polling
- View Latino Decisions’ presentation of the data
- View graphical representations of the data
- Read Latino Decisions’ description of their poll methodology