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A directional sign points the way to a polling place inside El Mercado de Los Angeles, a Mexico-style marketplace in East L.A. on November 6, 2012.
Exit polls are showing that overwhelming majorities of Latino and Asian American voters - more than 70 percent of each group - voted to re-elect President Barack Obama on Tuesday. Together with black voters, who reportedly supported Obama in even higher proportions, these voters of color are credited with carrying key states for Obama and ultimately assuring his victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Data so far has suggested that Latinos made up 10 percent of overall voters, a record number. At the same time, the non-Latino white percentage of the American electorate is on the decline. Does this election signal a tipping point in the influence of voters of color - or has that happened already?
Pollster Matt Barreto of the Latino Decisions firm has closely tracked the attitudes of Latino voters in the runup to the election. The firm has calculated that 75 percent of Latino voters - in the same range national exit polls have estimated so far - cast votes for Obama on Tuesday. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates from its exit poll analysis that Latinos voted 71 to 27 percent for Obama over Romney.
Angelenos voting at the Japanese Cultural Institute in Los Angeles on November 6th, 2012. As this country becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, the role of nonwhite voters in the election results has occupied more political speculation than in previous years.
Instead of the usual Multi-American news roundup this Election Day, here's a sampling of the many stories out there addressing voters of color, and how they figure into this year's election.
In recent months, political observers have suggested that Latinos and Asians could help swing the election, provided these voters turn out in large enough numbers. Black voters, meanwhile, have been called key to President Barack Obama's reelection. And Muslim voters of various backgrounds were recently polled as leaning toward Obama even as many remain undecided. Without further ado, a few of the election-related stories making the rounds today:
Latino vote for Obama could be historic high, poll says - Los Angeles Times The most recent voter tracking poll from the Latino Decisions firm indicates that 73 percent of Latino voters polled nationally planned to support President Obama. Twenty-four percent supported Republican candidate Mitt Romney, whose stance on immigration has hurt his standing with the Latino electorate. Three percent were undecided.
Voters fill out ballots in the June 5 presidential primary election at Estrada Court Community Center in Boyle Heights.
A majority of Latinos surveyed say they'd vote for President Barack Obama, but how many of them will make it to the polls? That's one takeaway question from a new Pew Hispanic Center survey, which found a large majority of respondents (69 percent vs. 21 percent) preferring Obama over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
At the same time, fewer Latinos are sure they'll vote. According to the report, 77 percent of Latino registered voters surveyed said they were “absolutely certain” they would vote this year, compared with 89 percent of registered voters in the general population as measured in a different Pew survey.
So what issues will get them to the polls? Unless the focus is on Latino voters in Arizona, it's not going to be immigration. According to the Pew survey, education, along with jobs and the economy, take top billing among Latino voters' concerns nationwide. Healthcare follows closely behind. Immigration, meanwhile, follows a relatively distant fifth, behind the federal budget deficit.
Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Mitt Romney waves after speaking during the 2012 Republican National Convention this week in Tampa, Florida, where he accepted the GOP nomination.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney secured the Republican presidential nomination this week, but polls indicate that he has a long way to go in order to secure the support he needs from Latino voters that could help him win the White House.
Unlike former Republican president George Bush, whose immigration message resonated favorably enough to win him substantial Latino support, Romney hasn't scored well there. The most recent Latino Decisions tracking poll had 26 percent of Latino voters polled saying they would vote for Romney, versus 65 percent saying they would re-elect President Barack Obama. This is far from the goal that Romney's campaign has set, which is that he'll need 38 percent of the Latino vote in order to win.
Does Romney stand a chance? It's highly unlikely he'll hit the 38 percent goal, says Louis DeSipio, a political scientist and professor of Chicano/Latino Studies at UC Irvine. But there are still a few targeted approaches that Romney's campaign can take in states where Latinos might help tip the balance. Here he explains how.
Photo by nathangibbs/Flickr (Creative Commons)
So are Latino voters as solidly behind President Obama as recent polls have indicated, or is there still wiggle room for the GOP before November? A new USA Today/Gallup poll would suggest the latter, but it's necessary to read the fine print.
According to the poll conducted in April and May, 51 percent of Latino respondents overall self-identified as "political independents." Only 32 percent identified as Democrats, and 11 percent as Republicans. Once pressed on which way they lean politically, however, many more leaned Democratic, as did the registered voters. From the poll results:
Screen shot from Gallup.com
There are some interesting side notes. According to Gallup, the poll results "confirm a growing trend toward independent political identification among U.S. Hispanics in recent years, surpassing the 50% mark in 2011" and mirroring a national trend in the general population.