Analysis: If Obama Wins, Thank Latino Voters

The second is Nevada, where the state's gain in the share of Latino eligible voters was essentially the same as Colorado's, taking the overall Hispanic share of eligible voters up to 17 percent. But in Nevada, gains among other minorities—blacks, Asians and those of other race—were also strong. Indeed, between 2008 and 2012, the overall minority share of eligible voters increased by an astonishing nine points, more than two points a year. Minorities are now almost 40 percent of Nevada's eligible voters. But within that group, Hispanics loom large, being the biggest component of the minority vote and currently favoring Obama by large margins. They are probably the key reason why Obama's average lead in the state is now three points and he is a currently favored to take the state.

The third state is Florida. Florida had roughly a two-point growth in the share of Hispanic eligible voters between 2008 and 2012, taking the overall Hispanic share up to 18 percent, with growth driven by increases among relatively liberal non-Cuban Hispanics in the state. Another two-point increase was contributed by growth among African American, Asian and other race-eligible voters, making for a total four-point increase in the overall minority share of eligible voters. If Obama has any chance of taking the state (he is currently behind Romney by less than a percentage point), it will be due to mobilization of minority voters, especially the fast-growing Hispanic population.

We will know very soon how the 2012 election turns out. If Obama does prevail, which now seems substantially more likely than not, the fingerprints of America's growing Latino population will likely be all over that victory.

Ruy Teixeira is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, and a senior fellow at both The Century Foundation and American Progress. He writes extensively on the shifting demographics of battleground states.

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