Hispanics May 'Skip' Midterm Elections?

A Pew Center survey finds an enthusiasm gap among registered Latino voters

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"Don't forget who your friends are. No se olviden. Don't forget," declared President Obama recently to members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. His words have taken on newfound urgency in light of a recent Hispanic Pew Center study finding an enthusiasm gap among Democratic-leaning Latino voters. The study found that although 65 percent of Latino registered voters planned to support a Democrat, but only 51 percent said they were certain to vote compared to 70 percent of the general electorate. After parsing the Pew statistics, pundits weigh in on the implications:

  • 'Strong Support for Dems, Weak Motivation' finds a Hispanic Pew Center study outlined by associate director Mark Hugo Lopez. Even "among Latino registered voters, Republicans may be more likely to turn out and vote than Democrats. Some 44% of Latino Republicans say they have given the election quite a lot of thought compared with 28% of Latino Democrats." Democratic partisans can take comfort in the fact that the "party continues to hold a large advantage in party identification among Latino registered voters. More than six-in-ten (62%) Latino registered voters say they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while one-quarter (25%) say the same for the Republican Party-a Democratic advantage of 37 percentage points."
  • Some Good News for Democrats They are pledging support to "even though only 26 percent of the voters said the policies of President Barack Obama's administration have helped Latinos. Thirteen percent said the administration's policies hurt Latinos, while 51 percent said they had no effect," reports Suzanne Gamboa at The Huffington Post. And interestingly, "immigration did not rank as a top voting issue for Latino registered voters in the Pew Hispanic survey. It came in fifth behind education, jobs, health care and the federal budget deficit."
  • No Lack of Enthusiasm Among Immigration Opponents  While Latino voters are "particularly dejected" about the political process, Marc Lacey at The New York Times observes that "the antiestablishment sentiment roiling the electorate in these midterm elections, as well as widespread frustration over the country’s porous borders, seems to be boosting candidates who favor tougher immigration rules." Which means that even in states with large Hispanic populations, like New Mexico, immigration is still a "vote-getter" for Republicans.
  • It's Easy To Understand Republican Resistance to 'a Path to Citizenship' for undocumented workers, writes NPR's Frank James. Sifting through the Pew survey numbers, he finds that "assuming the voting patterns among the undocumented would, once they became legal, follow those of current Latino citizens, Republicans could be locking in their electoral disadvantages in parts of the country with significant Hispanic populations....To effectively court Latino voters, an important and growing part of the American electorate, would mean to find a way to be tough on border enforcement and the problem of undocumented workers without resorting to language or actions that seem intolerant."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.