The Latino Vote: The Way Forward

The day after the election a friend posted on my Facebook page, the “Latino Vote –unfrigginbelievable.”

She’s right. Many factors contributed to President Obama’s re-election. But few are as important as the Latino vote.

Hispanics made up 10 percent of the U.S. electorate this year–doubling in the past 16 years.

The number of Latino voters rose to more than 12 million from 11.4 million in 2008.


Latinas Can Only Make History If We Vote Courtesy: ThinkStock

With 75 percent of Hispanics voting for Obama, according to Latino Decisions study, they accounted for about 15 percent of Obama’s total nationally–and substantially more in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and most likely Florida. Hispanic voters not only handed re-election to the President, they helped determine the winner in close U.S. Senate races across the country.

As I predicted, 2012 would not only be the year that Latino voters emerged as a political force, but marks the beginning of a political trend that is shaping the direction of our country as this voting bloc grows in size and prominence.

By 2050, the Hispanic population is expected to nearly double, accounting for as much as 29 percent of the total U.S. population. Each month, 50,000 Latinos turn 18 and are eligible to vote.

What does growing Latino political power mean for America, and for our community?

First, it means that from this point forward, candidates and political parties will need to articulate policies that appeal to us but are not that different from those geared toward “mainstream” Americans.

We are deeply concerned about jobs, economic growth, education, healthcare and the other building blocks of the American Dream.


Courtesy: Nicholas Neufeld/iStock Image

But make no mistake, immigration matters.

With many of us being part of mixed-immigration-status families, neighborhoods, and parishes, when a candidate disparagingly talks about “illegals,” tread carefully because you can be talking about our mamás. Or you just sound like a mean bully that picks on the smallest kid in the school yard.

Second, we will be watching to make sure the actions of those we helped elect match their rhetoric.

You cannot make a promise, not fulfill it, yet deport people in record numbers, including abuelas.

You also can’t eat lechón on the campaign trail pretending to be down with La Raza, yet praise the most anti-immigrant and anti-Latino laws in the country, their authors, and enforcers.

The road to the White House goes, not just through the barrio and the bodega, but classrooms, since 25 percent of public school students nationwide is Hispanic, and our nursing homes, as our population ages.

The seeds of political participation were planted in 2012 but will need to be watered, nurtured, at times weeded for it to take root and flourish, making our great democracy even greater.

The work has just begun –for Latinos, since our civic involvement can’t drop off; for Republicans, who can seize this opportunity after a total flameout to rebuild; and for the President, who is now tasked with the burden of making good on a promise that is four years overdue.

This post was first published as “The Latino Vote: The Way Forward” on November 12, 2012 in Fox News Latino where I am a regular politics columnist.

Click here to read my other Fox News Latino politics columns.

What do both parties need to do to hold and/or grow their share? What do Latinos need to do after our strong election showing?



  1. RosalindaL says

    As a daughter of an immigrant, I don’t agree with this article at all. Although our population is growing, we are not growing into a country we love; we are growing out of a country we despise. As a collective group, there is no patriotism to this country at any level. We, in general, long for the countries of past generations and do not have a solid loyalty to the country that has fed us, clothed us and given our families opportunities. We vote selfishly by educating ourselves with TV, Radio and the popularity of the candidate with no regard for the consequences. We continuously have our hand out always asking what they are going to give me, never, what can I do to give back for all of the blessings and opportunities that have been showered on me and my family because of this country. We are so busy being offended, we don’t care that our vote and our self-centered thinking is so offensive. As a population, we don’t put importance in integrating into this society who continues to bow to our needs, instead, we continue to grasp for the countries that did absolutely nothing to protect and care for our families – or we wouldn’t be here. It is so offensive to many of us that illegal is an ugly word. Since when did it become offensive to speak the truth? Why is illegal suddenly a bad word. When a law is broken, it is illegal. Why does our culture insist on pretending that immigration reform is about the Mexicans, when in fact, it is about the safety of this country as a whole. There are very bad people who come through our northern / southern borders who want to kill us and instead of thinking of our society collectively, all we can talk about is how WE are so offended. It is a disgrace that we have bought into the democratic, self-serving mind-sent in only one generation. When my father came into this country, he was illegal and until he earned his papers, he continued to be illegal. But he didn’t protest in the streets and scream racism, he worked hard for his family, he stayed loyal to this country and he followed the rules. He eventually became a citizen. When I ask my father if he wants to return to Mexico, his response is that THIS is his home. He is an American and loves his country as he continues to endear his culture. How can people be excited about welcoming a culture who embraces groups like LA RAZA? Although, according to your article, I understand that I am speaking to the wall of ME, Me, me, I continue to fight for the dignity of my people. We are intelligent and can learn English, but the Democrats have taught us to be dependent. We are resourceful and can find work while we wait, but the Democrats have taught us to be lazy. We are extremely faithful, but the Democrats have taught us to be heathens. We are patriotic, but the Democrats have taught us to be traitors. We have fallen for the lie and as our dependency grows, we will be the cause of the fall of one of the greatest countries and societies in the world!

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