October 27, 2010
5.5 million Latinos voted in the 2006 midterm elections. In the 2008 general election, 8 million Latinos voted. Now, in 2010, some groups calculate that 6.5 million Latinos will turn out at the polls. Next week, we’ll know for sure how accurate that number is. What we know now is that a range of unprecedented efforts to ensure Latino voter turnout is underway—since the Latino vote could be decisive in determining the outcome of many key races throughout the country.
The purpose of our series “March to the Polls 2010” was to capture the attitude of Hispanic voters in key states. Two years ago, they voted at record levels, but in the last two years they have been battered along with the rest of the country by an economy in crisis. They have suffered higher unemployment rates than the rest of the country. And the promise of immigration reform that would help their families and friends—a promise that was central in motivating many of them to vote in 2008—has yet to materialize.
We ran into some Latino voters who were energized, and some who were frustrated; we found many people eager to exercise their right to vote and mobilize others to do so, and others who questioned if their vote could really make a difference. After the election, the experts will take over in analysing what happened. But neither major party should ignore that the Latino vote, without a doubt, could be essential in continuing their own political careers, or creating a nationally-viable party. And they should note that there are better strategies than marginalizing them, as some have done, or taking them for granted, like others.