9:52 AM Eastern - Monday, February 8, 2010

Experts Highlight How Latino Voters Will Influence 2010 Elections

40 Competitive Races in 12 States Could Hinge on Latino Voter Turnout

Washington, DC - The Latino vote has grown exponentially since 2000, changing the political landscape in more than a dozen states across the country, and is poised to be pivotal yet again in the 2010 cycle. According to experts on the politics of the Latino vote, who gathered on a telephonic press conference today, candidates and parties need to do more than say a few words in Spanish-they need to understand and embrace the policies that motivate and influence Latino voters. How both parties handle such issues as comprehensive immigration reform will have a real impact on Latino political behavior, including turnout and party preference, in the congressional mid-terms and beyond.

Eliseo Medina, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Janet Murguia, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice, analyzed the findings of a new report from America's Voice that reviews the impact Latino voters will have on scores of battleground congressional races this cycle.

"The record influence of the Latino vote in 2008 was not a fluke; not an accident; not a random one-time occurrence," said SEIU International Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina. "It was the result of a growing shift in awareness among Latino voters in every corner of the U.S. about the real power of politics to change lives. As a result of this growing awareness, today we stand witness to the growing might of a diverse, highly-motivated electorate that will change American politics into the future."

"The hope for immigration reform has been a powerful force behind the Latino vote," said Janet Murguia, President and CEO of NCLR, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. "Like all Americans, Latinos believe it's time for politicians to stop playing politics with a problem we could have solved a long time ago. And as all voters, we will hold accountable those in either party who continue engaging in obstruction or avoidance."

The report, The Power of the Latino Vote in the 2010 Elections, provides a wealth of statistical information on Latino voters and analyzes trends in Latino voting behavior and the impact it will have on competitive races in 2010. Specifically, the report analyzes:

  • Trends in Latino Political Participation: Although the Latino electorate has been trending Democratic for years, the Democratic Party does not hold a lock on these voters. How both parties handle such issues as immigration reform will have a serious impact on Latino political behavior, including turnout and party preference. The 40% of Latino voters who are foreign-born, naturalized citizens have proven to be a crucial swing vote in recent elections, and the immigration issue is of particular importance to them.
  • Races to Watch: The report tracks 40 races for 2010 in 12 states-29 U.S. House races, eight U.S. Senate races and three gubernatorial races-and analyzes Latino voter percentages as well as the candidates' positions on immigration reform. All of these races are close, and Latino voters will make a decisive impact in choosing the winners.

  • Highest Latino % Congressional Districts: The report also highlights the 79 congressional districts in which Latinos comprise at least 25% of the population, and a significant number of the voting electorate as well. Fifty-four of these seats are currently controlled by Democratic Members of Congress and 25 are controlled by Republican Members of Congress.

"In 2010, how Latino voters behave and how both parties deal with the litmus test issue of immigration reform will be of huge consequence," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice. "Both parties have a significant stake in connecting with these voters, leaning into and leading on the issue of immigration reform, and getting on the right side of the fastest growing group of new voters in the nation."

» America's Voice - Report: The Power of the Latino Vote in the 2010 Elections.

» Click here to listen to a recording of today's call.

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