The core of the Latino electorate — its Catholics and religiously unaffiliated — are expected to vote Democratic, as usual, but the election could be decided by Protestant Latinos perhaps torn between immigration and religious stances important to them, a new survey shows.
The presidential preference among Latino Evangelicals is split, a study by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows. Among Latino Protestants, half support Obama and 33 percent back Republican contender Mitt Romney. And Romney's share appears to continue a decline among Protestants, who traditionally vote GOP, that began in 2004.
Together, the Protestant bloc accounts for only 16 percent of Latino registered voters, but the ramification of their party split, especially among undecideds, might more importantly lie in the battleground states where they live. Latinos make up 7 percent of Mormons in the country. But that doesn't mean they'll automatically support Romney. His immigration stance appears to have alienated many, according to an Associated Press report.
(RELATED CHARTS: Voting Preferences of the Changing U.S. Electorate since 1980)
Latino voters now account for 11 percent of the nation's voters, up from 9.5 percent in 2008, and total 23.7 million eligible voters. In three swing states — Colorado, Florida, and Nevada — Latino voters make up at least 14 percent of the vote.