The steady browning of the nation is the undeniable reality in the nation’s future–no surprise there. Latinos translating their growing numbers into electoral power in key states like Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Virginia which have the power to win elections. It’s a growing electoral power that advocates have hinted at for years, and we are seeing the first evidence of the night bearing that out.
In Florida for example, where Obama is holding on to a steady but narrow lead, the showing of Latino voters was up. They were 15 percent of Florida’s vote in 2008 and 17 percent of the vote tonight, according to CNN exit polls. And Latino voters were 11 percent of those who turned out in Colorado, surpassing the 8.7 percent that even (Latino political organizations)[http://www.naleo.org/latinovote.html] expected them to make up. In Arizona, where Romney’s got a comfortable lead and may likely win, Latino voters were still nearly one in five of those who voted–and were expected to be just 12 percent of those who turned out.
So critical is the Latino vote that the Romney camp projected it would need to take home 38 percent of the Latino vote in order to win, The Hill reported. For some context, that’s a seven-point jump from the 31 percent of the Latino vote that John McCain won in 2008. But Latino voters, then as now, overwhelmingly supported President Obama tonight, and in states like Colorado by a near-50-point margin. Latinos cite among their top concerns the economy, immigration and the DREAM Act and education, according to Election eve polling conducted by (Latino Decisions)[http://www.latinospost.com/articles/6522/20121106/2012-presidential-elec…, and have backed the president to deliver on those concerns.
The nation saw a glimpse of the Latino vote’s power in the 2010 midterms when Latino voters saved the West for the Democrats, holding back an onslaught of Republican and tea-party-backed senate and gubernatorial candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada and Meg Whitman in California, respectively.
Follow the rest of the election returns with us at Colorlines.com.