Record turnout of Latino voters could set tone for future elections

November 07, 2012

One of the key factors for President Barack Obama's re-election was the support of Latino voters across the country. Here in Arizona, several groups worked to register Latino voters. KJZZ's Dennis Lambert and Al Macias discussed what was learned from yesterday's election.

DENNIS LAMBERT: First of all, how big a role did Latino voters play in President Obama's victory?

AL MACIAS: According to various exit polls Latinos voted overwhelmingly for the president....several polls put the Latino vote at more than 70 pecrcent in support of the president. In fact some reports are showing Latinos supporting President Obama by 75 percent which would surpass the high water mark that President Clinton enjoyed in 1992. That could pose a problem for Republicans with the growing number of Latino voters. The GOP's percentage of Latino voters in this presidential election is estimated to be in the low 20's, which would be about half of what the first President Bush won in 1980.

LAMBERT: What impact did the Latino vote have here in Arizona?

MACIAS: It would appear that there was not an immediate impact since there was a huge effort to register Latinos in Maricopa County to oust Sheriff Arpaio. Arpaio won, but it was the closest race of his career. One strategist I spoke to yesterday said that while many were hopeful the odds were against beating Arpaio. What he said was that many strategists are looking at the long term, getting Arizona in play like Nevada and Colorado this year. Looking at census numbers, Arizona's voter age population grew by 72 percent over the last decade.

LAMBERT: What does this mean for future elections?

MACIAS: Last census showed 700,000 Latino under age of 18 in Arizona, many of those could be voting by next presidential cycle. If those population trends hold up then Latino voters could make up a quarter of Arizona's voting age population by the next presidential election. That would mean more attention paid to Arizona, more money, more resources, more political advertising, maybe not a good thing.

LAMBERT: When will we see solid results about the Latino turnout?

MACIAS: Several groups have a news conference scheduled for today, to discuss the results. The analysis and number crunching is already under way, but it may be several weeks or months until all the numbers are digested and we get solid results.