Democratic campaign strategists say the Hispanic vote will be "historic" in Tuesday's elections and could be the deciding factor of whether Barack Obama wins a second term in the White House.
"The president will win the largest number of Latino votes in history," Gabriela Domenzain, the Democrats' chief promoter of the Hispanic vote, told Efe in an interview at Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.
"Never before" has so much attention been paid to the Latino vote or has so much effort been invested in mobilizing it, she said.
In her opinion, the effort has been worth it: "We're beating the governor (Mitt Romney) by 50-60 points" in voter preference among Hispanics, Domenzain said.
The polls predict the president will take about 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, which could be decisive in swing states like Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia.
A total of 23.6 million Hispanics are eligible to vote this time, 22 percent more than in 2008.
But traditionally high rates of abstention remain a risk for Democrats.
Matt Barreto, co-president of the public opinion pollster Latino Decisions, says some 15 million of the 23.6 million eligible Latino voters have registered and predicts about 12.2 million of them will cast ballots.
The latest surveys show a technical tie between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, but the numbers have not discouraged the president or his principal strategists.
Obama said Tuesday, in a surprise visit to campaign headquarters near his home in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, that his supporters are convinced he has the votes needed to win.
He insisted, nevertheless, that victory depends on voter turnout Tuesday at the polls.
Tonight the president will give a victory speech or accept defeat from the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago.
The key, experts say, will be turnout, which in 2008 reached 62.9 percent. A drop in that percentage would indicate that the Democratic political machine did not live up to expectations. EFE