Midterm Elections & Immigration Reform 2014: Latin Vote Turnout Rises in Midterms, Latinos More Engaged Than Ever, Experts Say
One of the fastest rising demographics in the U.S., Latinos, continued to expand their voting power during Tuesday's midterm elections, according to exit polls.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) predicted a one percent increase in Latino voters during the midterm election, and were able to confirm that voter turnout went from seven percent to eight percent on Tuesday.
In exit polls, Latino Decisions said Democrats carried 64 percent of the Latino vote, half way between their 60 percent level in 2010 and 68 percent in 2012.
There are 11 million registered Latino voters in the U.S., but generally 6.6 million actually vote. And while there was an increase in the amount of Latinos who went to the polls Tuesday, there was still a large chunk that did not vote, experts noted.
"NALEO predicted that eight percent of the electorate would be Latinos, and that is the number we got last night. That's an increase from 2010, which is the best comparison of Latino voter turnout, so we increased our turnout by one percent, from 2010 to 2014 in the mid-term election. So, our numbers were consistent with our past showing, but still an increase," Vanessa Cardenas, Vice President of Progress 2050 at the Center for American Progress Action Fund told Latin Post.
Cardenas added, "But there is still a huge number of Latinos that did not vote again in this election."
While the midterm elections looked like a referendum on the Obama Administration, Cardenas says that people should not underestimate Latino voters who aren't taken in by campaign rhetoric and will vote on issues in 2016.
"There is huge potential. I think Latinos are more engaged than before, and they are paying attention," she said. "By far, they support Democratic candidates because they have been following this issue [immigration] closely, and they know who is actually pro-reform and who isn't."
An election eve poll by Latino Decisions showed that of all Latino voters polled, 57 percent were concerned about immigration reform, 30 percent were concerned in jobs and the economy, and 18 percent in healthcare and Medicaid.
"Even if Republicans control the House and Senate, 2016 is around the corner. In a lot of races, the rhetoric we heard, the agenda and the way they portray themselves is not going to work for a general electorate. And if they want to get in the White House, they are going to have to move to the center because the majority of Americans are in the center, and they are going to have to change a lot of their positions," Cardenas told Latin Post.
The Latino share of the electorate is potentially doubling by 2030, which will be a serious issue for both parties in the long term. President Obama has promised to act on immigration reform through executive action before the end of the year. Immigration advocates will be watching in the new few weeks conversations he will be having with Republicans running both the House and Senate and whether that could lead to a greater immigration reform package or just a longer stalemate.
"As much as Republicans want to say they want to change their positions or want to sound less against immigration reform, the fact remains that the only bills that the House passed, which is a majority [of] Republicans, have been to defund DACA, and to limit the President's executive action. I think when it comes to Latinos and immigration, [Latinos] very much understand what the positions are, and by far, they still support a Democratic candidate," Cardenas said to Latin Post.
"That's not to say they are locked into Democrats," she added. "We are a very diverse community and we are very concerned about the economy and other issues, but going forward, I think there is more reason for the President to do something on executive action, do it soon, and really mobilize this community for 2016."