Come November, Can Latinos Make an Impact in Arizona? Or Are Registered Voters Too Low?

latino-vote-300x225.jpgLatinos in Arizona have become fittingly disappointed with Republican leadership in Arizona and want some change. But are registered latino voters too low for their voices to be heard come november elections?

via Univision News


As we chronicled today, Democrats are becoming increasingly confident that President Obama can win Arizona in the fall with the help of Latino voters.

Those feelings reached a fever pitch after last week’s primary debate, when Republican presidential candidates doubled down on their tough positions on immigration, an issue that Democrats hope will drive Latinos to the polls to vote for them. On paper, the argument makes sense. But Democrats still face significant obstacles in turning that plan into reality.

There is no doubt that the passage of Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, SB 1070, infuriated many, many Latinos in the state and remains a major concern. But there are signs that the immigration might be waning as a voting issue in the aftermath of the recall of the bill’s author, Russell Pearce. Here’s a tidbit from a New York Times report this week:

Two years after Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed legislation that required all immigrants to carry documentation or face arrest — a law that set off protests here and stirred a national boycott of the state — concern about illegal immigration is no longer the all-consuming issue it had been for so long.

The fading of the issue, at least for now, was most recently on display in the Republican presidential primary. At a debate here last week, it took an hour before the issue that has shaken Arizona for five years was raised.

Jobs, the economy, and home foreclosures have become the preeminent issue in the state. That sentiment was also true among Arizona Latino voters who spoke to Univision’s Luis Megid.

“In Arizona, immigration is second place among voter’s concerns. Voters I talked to tell me, priority number one is the economy,” he tweeted Tuesday.

One possible consequence of that is it might not be as easy for Obama to effectively draw the Republican nominee into a fight about immigration in the fall with voters more interested in economic issues, the Times suggested, especially because there is also frustration among Latinos over the lack of progress of federal immigration reform under Obama.

Another concerning factor for Democrats: party registration has actually declined by six percentage points since 2008, according to government data included in a report released by Third Way. That comes as Democrats were hoping to grow their numbers with the help of Latinos in the aftermath of the 1070 law. While Latino Democratic registrations did spike following the law’s passage, it hasn’t been enough to drive up the overall advantage for Democrats.

Even though 18 percent of eligible voters in Arizona are Latino, both political parties in Arizona have traditionally found difficulties in upping Latino participation in elections, according to Arizona political expert Bruce Merill.

“The tragedy in Arizona is in 15 to 20 years, a majority of the population will be Hispanic. But Hispanics traditionally have not voted,” Merrill said Tuesday on CNN. “I do not expect that they will vote in very high percentages this election year either.”

All of this is not to say that the Republican Party may indeed have suffered damage from the immigration debate in Arizona and beyond, especially since it has declined as a vote-moving issue for non-Latino voters and their handling of it has alienated many Latinos.

But unless many more Latinos register to vote and show up at the polls in November, the payoff for Democrats might have to wait beyond 2012.

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  • published this page in Vote 2012-03-16 08:13:43 -0700