Did President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney intentionally drop the ball with Latino voters? The candidates have yet to make a concerted effort to address top Latino concerns during the final stretch of the 2012 presidential campaign.
“I think that both candidates are still not doing enough to frame the concerns of Hispanics in the United States as it relates to the economy; this is somewhat depressing given the significance of Hispanics making strides to move toward the middle class—even if only aspirationally,” said Richard Pineda, a communications professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, who was disappointed that neither candidate brought up during the recent debate how Latinos play an important role in continuing America’s economic recovery.
With eligible Latino voters at historic highs, shouldn’t America’s largest demographic be one of Obama’s and Romney’s campaign focal points? That’s 23.7 million voters each candidate potentially is passing up from this rapidly growing group, which the Pew Hispanic Center’s Mark Lopez discusses in the video below.
Is it because Blacks and whites are 30 percent and 32 percent, respectively, more likely to show up at the polls? The Pew Research Center reports that less than half of eligible Latinos (9.7 of 19.5 million) actually cast a ballot during the last election, 69 percent of them for Obama.
Perhaps more pertinent Latino issues, such as immigration, never came up because both candidates know President Obama pretty much has this demographic in the bag: About 70 percent of Latinos said they would vote for Obama, according to a CNN poll the night preceding the debate, and a Latino Decisions poll released the day after showed the president leading Romney 78 percent to 17 percent. Romney was reported to hold favor with only 21 percent prior to the debate, which is well below his campaign’s goal of 38 percent—not surprising considering his strong opposition for immigration policies such as the DREAM Act puts him in direct conflict with much of the Latino population.
Either way, observers agree that Obama and Romney missed a great opportunity to swing a few more electoral votes in their direction.
Read the debate questions Latino civic leaders wished PBS host Jim Lehrer would have asked. What other domestic issues and Latino concerns do you think were neglected at the debate? Can Obama and Romney regain traction among Latinos before the election, or will they continue to marginalize this demographic segment?
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