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High Latino Voter Turnout Could Make the Difference for Obama

by Wes Messamore, published

The latest Latino Decisions tracking poll has President Obama way ahead among Latino voters with a total of 73% of respondents saying they plan to vote for Obama, and only 22% of respondents saying they plan to vote for Governor Mitt Romney.

This latest Latino voters poll reveals the potential for a historic landslide among Latino voters in a presidential election. The highest percentage of Latinos that has ever voted for a presidential candidate since 1980 was 72% for Bill Clinton in his successful 1996 bid for reelection.

Why do Latino voters poll so heavily in favor of Obama this cycle?

One fascinating analysis at The Washington Post acknowledges the role of immigration policy and Mitt Romney's hard line immigration rhetoric during the Republican primary, but contends that two other issues may have done more to shape this electoral outcome: 1) Republican opposition to the Democrats' health care bill, and 2) Mr. Obama's appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court over Republican objections.

Another analysis at The Hill agrees that immigration policy is not the main issue for Latino voters, but suggests that jobs, home affordability, and business opportunities may be just as important as health care to Latino voters, in an analysis that suggests the latest poll figures might be skewed a little toward the incumbent.

Curiously absent from much of the discussion about the Latino voters poll this morning is any analysis of the ongoing drug war in Mexico, which is in no small part, a result of US drug policy, and which has turned Mexico into one of the most violent and deadly conflict zones in the world, with thousands of drug war deaths every year.

Neither President Obama nor Governor Romney have made drug policy reform an issue in the 2012 election.

With such a heavy share of Latino voters supporting Mr. Obama, if voter turnout among Latinos is high on Tuesday, and if the latest poll numbers hold through the election, Latinos could potentially help decide the outcome of the 2012 presidential election by delivering Obama wins in Virginia and Florida.

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