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Latino Daily News

Saturday April 7, 2012

Measuring the Latino Vote State by State

Measuring the Latino Vote State by State

Photo: Where latino Votes Matter

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

There’s been a lot of buzz about the latino voter influence in the november elections. Yet it’s hard to really tell how much influence it will have. Latino voter registrations are super low and disillusionment pretty high. A group of political scientist have taken all of this and more into account and may have come up with a formula to to measure the latino influence. Read the poll report and projections here: Projecting Latino Electoral Influence in 2012.


We have all been hearing for some time now how “critical” the Latino vote will be in November. A group of Latino political scientists say they have developed a way to show - and forecast - how Latinos might or might not tip the election in some competitive states this year. 

“We get asked the question about ‘Latino influence’ from the press weekly,” say Matt Barreto and Gary Segura, political scientists and co-founder of Latino Decisions. “Answering the question is easy if you just make it up,” they say.  Instead, they say, “our goal has always been to offer electoral analysis rooted in data.”

With the support of America’s Voice Education Fund, a non-partisan public policy organization which focuses on immigration issues, Barreto explains they have developed a model which will regularly input the local variations in the Latino vote in each state.

Latino numbers and voter preferences, for example, will be changed in an ”interactive” model after a new tracking poll of Latinos, or after new information on voter records.  The data will be adjusted for the next seven months, until Election Day, Barreto explains. 

Latinos might say they are planning to vote when asked on a poll, for example, but the Hispanic political scientists, along with University of North Carolina political scientist Justin Gross, will be looking at the actual voter registration records to see if the participation will probably be higher or lower.

Since they will be looking at state-specific data, the Latino political scientists hope to take into account local factors such as the effect of new voter ID laws, for instance, or the voter roll changes as more Latinos turn 18 and register in different states.

The group says that national elections are won “state by state,” and the key is to figure out whether the Latino vote “can single-handedly cause a state to flip from Republican to Democrat - or vice-versa, from Democrat to Republican.”

How does the model work? In Florida, Latinos make up 16 percent of the voters. This model predicts that if a Republican gets 51 percent of the non-Latino vote, it would need 45 percent of Florida Hispanics to vote Republican in order to win the state.  But if the Republican candidate gets less than 49 percent of the non-Latino vote, he would need 56 percent of the Latino vote to win the state.

The political scientists explain it is not the size of the Latino voters in any particular state that determines their influence, but their turnout. In Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Latinos are only between 3 to 5 percent of the electorate, but they can “tip” a state’s results if the non-Latino vote is almost evenly split, which could happen in places like Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Barreto says his goal is “to give our best guesses, up until the day before November’s elections.” The Latino political scientists hope their numbers prove “objective and verifiable.”