Unregistered, potentially eligible Latino voters could decide which presidential candidate wins a number of red and swing states, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress.
The group looked at the top 10 states with the highest concentration of potential voters — either unregistered Latino voters or permanent residents that could gain citizenship and vote in November. In all, they number 12.1 million, which is a big deal in what promises to be a tight election.
“In 8 of the 10 states highlighted, the number of potential voters already outnumbers the margin by which either then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) or Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) won the state in 2008, in some cases far exceeding that margin,” writes Philip E. Wolgin, a immigration policy analyst at the center.
“Like all voters, these potential voters care about a variety of issues, particularly the state of the economy and jobs. But immigration is a deeply personal issue for them. These voters care about how the parties talk about immigration and recent immigration events have only solidified this fact: A recent Latino Decisions poll in five swing states found that on average 30 percent of Latino voters know someone in removal proceedings and a full 55 percent know someone who is undocumented. These numbers rise to as high as 41 percent and 74 percent, respectively, in Nevada, and 37 percent and 68 percent, respectively, in Arizona.”
In a critical election year where the fate of America in the current decade may rest on a million or so votes, Latino leaders are already decrying the over 8 million green card holders who are already eligible to become citizens — and voters. Of the 8 million potential voters, 44 percent are from Latin America.
“If all those who can get their citizenship would vote,” said immigrant rights advocate Juan Jose Gutierrez, “with that power we could put pressure on the politicians to attend to the most pressing demands of our community such as fair and comprehensive immigration reform.”
Whether it’s within the citizen community or the immigrant community, the issue among Latinos appears to be identical: civic engagement. Latinos persistently stop short of fully realizing their collective political might by not taking the one or two steps necessary to ensure their votes are counted and their voices, heard. United, Latinos truly are a political force the likes of which the country has not witnessed in some time, but only if Latinos are united and engaged.
If they stay home and choose not to choose, then government will continue to belief it can afford to ignore than the sleeping giant.