Hispanic vote at core of U.S. election scene

Published November 05, 2012


People here in New Mexico's largest city are preparing to vote Tuesday in a very tightly contested presidential election, in which the Hispanic vote in the Southwest border states will be a key element.

Barack Obama had the support of almost 7 out of 10 Hispanic voters in the 2008 election.

At that time, 19.5 million Hispanics were registered voters but only half of them cast their ballots. On this occasion there will be 23.7 million Latinos eligible to vote.

New Mexico, with a 46.7 percent Hispanic population, appears to be solidly in Obama's column.

Polls point to a Democratic victory for the Democratic incumbent by a margin of some 10 points over Republican rival Mitt Romney.

What will happen seems so obvious, in fact, that neither candidate bothers to visit that state. Obama and Romney have only set foot in New Mexico once in the whole year.

"In a certain way we feel a abandoned," Republican Lt. Gov. John Sanchez told Efe. "It's pretty unusual. Historically we have been one of the states where the voting has been decisive, and, with the exception of 2008, very equal. Tradition says that whoever wins New Mexico wins the election," he said.

Obama took 57 percent of the vote in that state in 2008 against John McCain.

California, where Latinos make up 36.2 percent of the population, is another state where an Obama victory is taken for granted thanks to a current 15 percent lead over Romney.

"I'm confident that the change promoted by Obama will become a reality in the next four years. And to me, what Romney says sounds false," Bryan Miranda, 29, a valet parker at a hotel in West Hollywood, told Efe.

Just the opposite is happening in the more conservative states of Texas and Arizona, which, according to the latest poll results, will give strong support to Romney with wide margins of up to 20 percentage points.

Nonetheless, the majority of Hispanics in those states will be voting for Obama again, as they did in 2008.

"I voted last Thursday," Neylu Longoria, an Obama supporter in Austin, Texas, told Efe.

"As a Latino and a woman, I believe that Obama is the one who best defends our interests and most supports us," she said. But her friend Alexandra Martinez thinks differently, and is disappointed by the still-high joblessness.

"I voted for Romney. I'm against everything Obama has done," Martinez said. EFE