NPR recently reported that the Romney campaign has spent $11 million on ads targeting Hispanic voters—nearly 8 times the amount spent in the last election on the same demographic. Why the new efforts to lure the Latino vote? It’s a matter of margins really.
According to most polls, Mitt Romney only trails Obama by an average of 3 percent in the crucial swing states of Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina. Though the overall election forecasts anticipate a close race, unless something drastically changes in upcoming weeks there will be nothing close at all when it come to the candidates’ share of Latino voters.
The Los Angeles Times found that more than 70% of Hispanics plan to vote for Barack Obama this November compared with 20% who favor Romney. There are now 11 million registered Hispanic voters nationwide, and in a neck-in-neck presidential race their votes may very well decide who sits in the Oval Office next year.
The fact that Latino voters prefer Democrats isn’t exactly breaking news. No one was surprised by the “Latino’s for Obama” hats that speckled the audience of the Democratic National Convention. What is surprising is the Obama administration’s policy towards illegal immigrants—a key issue for many Latino voters—seems to defy the kind of support Latino voters give the President.
Over the last 4 years the Obama administration has deported roughly 1.4 million illegal immigrants, a pace which, if sustained, will put him on track to nearly double President Bush’s deportation number of 2 million in 8 years. The most recent Democratic president, Bill Clinton, deported only 869,676 in 8 years. Barring some change in the administration’s policy towards illegal immigrants, if Obama is reelected, his presidency will deport more illegal immigrants than any administration in U.S. history.
Obama’s deportation statistics raise some interesting questions about the Latino vote and about demographic voting trends in general. With an administration that is more hostile than ever to illegal immigrants—allegedly a key issue for Latino voters—why does Latino support for the Democratic Party seem to be as fervent as ever? Are Latino voters simply unaware of these statistics or are there other issues that supersede immigration concerns?
Part of the problem might by the fact that Mitt Romney’s has no clear policy on immigration, making it impossible to compare his and President’s plans side by side. For now it is sufficient to say that despite Obama’s schedule to surpass the deportation numbers of any President in history, Latino Americans appear ready to give him their vote, and theirs is the vote that looks like it will determine the presidency.