Booming Hispanic Populations Could Tip Scales In Close 2012 Election


Martinez said the GOP intends to build on its successes of 2010 and continue reaching out to Latino voters during the 2012 election season.

"Latinos are an important part of our party, and it's obvious that they will continue to play an important role in U.S. elections," she said.

And as minority populations continue to grow, their support is becoming even more vital to Democratic candidates as well, Frey said.

"I think [Hispanic population growth] will change the nature of the Democratic base," he said. "If you look at the Democrat's critical base as being a big tent, the party now has a more diverse tent."

Frey said this growing diversity makes issues like immigration reform and the DREAM Act, which provides immigrant children a path to citizenship by attending college or joining the military, especially important for the Democratic Party.

But Mark Hugo Lopez, the associate director of Pew Hispanic Research Center, argues that Hispanics are more concerned about the economy than any other issue because the "recession has impacted Latinos more than the general public," he said.

The unemployment rate for Hispanics was 2 percentage points higher than the rest of the country with 11.3 percent of Hispanics out of a job in July compared to 9.1 percent for the country as a while.

And according to Republican National Convention spokeswoman Victoria Martinez, the economic woes of Hispanics could provide an opportunity for Republicans to pick up votes from a constituency that has in the past supported their rivals.

"Obama's failed policies have hit Latinos especially hard," Martinez said in an email. "The President's abysmal economic record and his failure to deliver on his campaign promises will be the issues weighing most heavily on the minds of Latino voters as they look towards the 2012 elections."

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