Pew Hispanic researcher answers key questions about the Latino vote before the 2012 election

“This year, we have been talking a lot about the growing impact of the Latino vote. We found in this recent survey that 67% of all (1,765) Latinos interviewed say that the Latino vote will have a major impact on the 2012 presidential election….» Director Dr. Mark Hugo López.

Elias Kamal Jabbe

LOS ANGELES – Southern California native and Pew Hispanic Center Associate Director Dr. Mark Hugo López returned home on October 22 to present his latest research on the Latino vote across several states at the University of Southern California.

The ‘Pew Survey and the Latino Vote in 2012’ panel was part of the USC Unruh Institute of Politics ‘Road to the White House’ series and was co-moderated by Paola Fernandez, Political Director of the USC Latino Student Assembly and Roberto Suro, Founder of the Pew Hispanic Center and Director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute.

After Dr. López mentioned how glad he was to see his family in Southern California, the Whittier native told the audience composed of students, authors and professors about the latest research he conducted with his fellow Washington D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center colleague Ana Gonzalez-Barrera for the 2012 National Survey of Latinos released on October 11.

“This year, we have been talking a lot about the growing impact of the Latino vote. We found in this recent survey that 67% of all (1,765) Latinos interviewed say that the Latino vote will have a major impact on the 2012 presidential election. 72% of (899) foreign born Latinos interviewed say the Latino vote will have a strong impact, compared to 62% of (866) native born Latinos,” said Dr. López, who added that the survey was not limited to Latinos who were registered voters.

Understanding diversity

Though he mentioned that 61% of registered Latino voters identified the Democratic party as the party which was more concerned with the Latino community, Dr. López reminded the audience that it was important to understand the diversity of the Latino electorate in order to better understand it.

“In this survey, we wanted to look at differences within the Latino electorate, because this electorate is not a monolith (when it comes to voting preferences)…The three big Latino battleground states are so different from each other in terms of the demographics. Nevada has a lot of new arrivals (from Mexico) and Colorado has a strong presence of families (of Mexican origin) that have been there for many generations. And then you have Florida, which is not (predominantly) Mexican, it is (mostly) Cuban, Puerto Rican and South American,” said Dr. López, who added that 4 million more Latinos are eligible to vote this year compared to 2008.

2016 and beyond

Dr. López’s comments on the present growth of the Latino community preceded a transition into a discussion on the future of social integration for Latinos in the US between Suro and USC Dornsife sociology professor Dr. Jody Agius Vallejo

“We did a survey on schools and asked Latino parents if they could get their child’s report card in their native language. The number of parents that answered yes was impossible: you knew it wasn’t true,” said Suro, who added that lack of confidence in schools and other public institutions has consistently been higher for Latino parents than their counterparts from any other ethnic group in the US in the decade since the Pew Hispanic Center conducted its preliminary research when it launched in 2001.

Dr. Vallejo, who published ‘Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican American Middle Class’ in August 2012, added that she believed there’s a strong need for more Latino leaders in the US especially because the US Latino community is growing rapidly.

Elias Kamal Jabbe is the Founding Editor of MulticulturalMatters.org

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