WASHINGTON, D.C.—For more than a year, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and others have said that the Hispanic vote would be the one to watch in the 2012 election. This was resoundingly confirmed by the results of last night’s election. According to an election eve poll conducted by ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions, the level of support for President Barack Obama among Latino voters was at near-historic levels. With significant Latino presence in states such as Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada, among others, there is no question that the Hispanic vote contributed mightily to the president’s razor-thin margin of victory in each of those states.
“We are very proud of our community tonight,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. “Latino voters came out in large numbers—perhaps surpassing 10 percent of the electorate for the first time in history according to CNN exit polls—because they care deeply about the future of this country. They want to see our economy and opportunity expand, and the American Dream available for all. And they clearly want to see the immigration issue resolved.”
“In one of the closest presidential elections in years, the battle for the Latino vote was no contest at all. There is no doubt from our own poll results that the president’s positions on the issues, and in particular his landmark decision this summer to grant deferred action to DREAM Act students, more closely mirrored the Latino electorate and were among the key reasons for the president’s historic showing among our community.
“But it is also true that the Republican party and the Romney campaign failed to compete for our vote and they paid the price for it. Our community was clearly engaged in this election—NCLR, a nonpartisan organization, surpassed our own goal and registered nearly 95,000 new voters. The community also clearly recognized that there was no Latino-focused Republican strategy and even more damaging, they were fully aware that candidate Romney has embraced ‘self-deportation’ as an immigration strategy, touted Kris Kobach as his immigration guru, and at one point promised to veto the DREAM Act.
“In their post-mortem of the election, the Republican party needs to do some soul searching when it comes to the Latino community. NCLR firmly believes it is in our community’s best interests to have both parties actively and vigorously campaigning for our vote. And frankly, it is the party’s best interests as well. As this election demonstrated, in 2012, communities of color, young people, and women are not merely interest groups, they’re the ‘new normal’ demographic of the American electorate. And with nearly a million Latinos turning 18 every year for the foreseeable future, the Hispanic vote is now a fixture of American politics.
“We are optimistic that we can and must come together to address our country’s continuing challenges, because this election also revealed much common ground among American voters. The economy is the overwhelming concern of nearly every voter, and education and health care remain high priorities. And finally, we agree with the voices in the Republican party who are saying that immigration needs to stop being a negative wedge issue for candidates and that the party should focus instead on a common-sense solution to our broken immigration system. Latinos are ready to step up and work with Congress and the administration as soon as they reconvene to address these urgent concerns.”
NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.