Latinos account for about 14 percent of Colorado’s registered voters, and just how heavily they participate through Election Day could be key in Colorado’s close U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races.
History cuts two ways on the question. During the 2012 presidential election, more than 90 percent of registered Latinos voted, and 4 of 5 supported President Obama, which might hearten Democrats. But in the last midterm election, 2010, only 67 percent voted. Voting patterns decline in all groups in midterms, but the gap was larger among Latinos, according to a Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis.
“I don’t think that there is any sign that they are highly motivated this time,” said veteran Denver political analyst Floyd Ciruli. “The reason they tend to drop off is because well, first, everyone does – everyone votes more in Presidential elections – but Latinos are newer to the community and they are less likely to get into the polling place.”
Advocates also say they are unhappy that neither party is pushing for immigration reform this time around.
“We won’t be ignored by one side and be taken for granted by the other side,” said Carla Castedo, Colorado director of Mi Familia Vota, a nationwide, non-partisan Get Out the Vote organization. “The fact that immigration reform wasn’t passed really meant a lot, and right now people don’t know where to direct their anger.”
Both Democrats and Republicans say they’re working hard to secure Latino voters. But Ciruli said “there is too much downside” for either party to be pushing immigration reform this time around.
Senate Democrats have passed an immigration reform bill, but the House controlled Republicans have refused to bring it up. President Obama said he intended to do what he could through executive action, but then publicly delayed that course until later.
“The lack of action from the president has deflated the hopes of immigration advocates,” Said Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions, which polls Latino voters.
“I think there is maybe a disconnect,” said Castedo, “because, yes, the economy and education are big issues, but immigration is something we talk to voters about every single day. Most Latino voters are impacted personally by immigration, whether they personally are immigrants or it’s a family member or a friend.”
The Latino Decisions poll showed that 47 percent of Colorado Hispanic voters believe that Democrats are either taking their vote for granted or don’t care about Hispanic voters. The poll also showed that 60 percent of Hispanic voters believed Republicans don’t care about their vote and 17 percent said that Republicans are being outright hostile to Colorado’s Latinos.
Just how it all turns out for 2014 will soon be known.