As Janell Ross writes for Huff Post Latino Voices:
“The nation’s 50 million Latinos make up the largest minority group and the fastest growing segment of the American electorate. Both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are clamoring for Latino voters. So when America Ferrera, American-born actress of Honduran heritage and public ambassador for Voto Latino, downplayed Hispanic America’s political influence during a Democratic National Convention forum this week, there were murmurs from the back of the room.
‘It is incredibly dangerous to take for granted that because Latinos are growing in number in this country this is going to equal political engagement and political resolve,’ said Fererra. ‘One doesn’t automatically lead to the other.’ “
And as Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said:
“All the data we have indicates that there will be good growth, but not spectacular growth in the Latino vote this year. … Will Obama benefit from the Latino vote? Yes, in those states that really matter. Will the Latino vote have a great performance, incredible new turnout, overall in 2012? The answer is no.”
Gonzalez predicts that the Latino vote will come in just under the 11.6 million mark it reached in 2008. According to his figures, 10.9 million Latinos are registered to vote, or a little less than half the actual number of the Latinos who are eligible.
Low participation among Latino voters is a biennial plague. Like young voters — whose turnout dropped from 51 percent in 2008 to a measly 21 percent during the Tea Party surge of 2010 — Latinos seem to be among the most opinionated and vocal citizens on political issues, but when the time comes to cast their ballots, they hardly show up. (Out of 21.3 million eligible Latino voters, only 6.6 million voted in 2010, or 31 percent.)
Latinos turned out for then-candidate Obama in huge numbers in 2008, but even then it was only 49.9 percent of eligible voters — embarrassingly low when compared to national average of 63.6 percent.
Imagine, just imagine, if Latino turnout would’ve been anywhere near 60 percent in 2008. Imagine, just imagine, if Latino turnout would’ve been anywhere near the average turnout rate of 41 percent in 2010. Would we not have an obstinate, GOP-controlled House today? Would there have been enough progressives in the Senate to pass the DREAM Act?
Ah, but it appears I’m the one doing the dreaming.
But the question Dems have been asking themselves — in fact, the question that looms over the entire election — is whether or not Latinos will even show up to the polls come November 6. Apparently, winning the Latino vote is a two-step process: 1) getting Latinos to support your platform, and 2) getting Latinos to spend a few minutes out of their day pressing a button at their local polling place, sometime in the couple of weeks leading up to Election Day. (Remember, people, there is early voting in most states — at least for now.)
Whether Latinos are up to the task remains to be seen. Many Latinos seem to think Obama has done so little for them that a Romney presidency would be no different than what they have now. Some even believe a Romney White House would do more for Latinos. (In the immortal words of Bart Simpson, ¡Ay, caramba!)
The Latino non-voter needs to finally stand up this year and put their vote where their mouth is — or else, keep their mouths closed for the next four years.