The Latino Vote

With 9.5 million registered voters, Latinos are poised to play a historically decisive role in the 2008 presidential election. The youth in particular find themselves in a position of power–with the population of young Latino voters exploding 60% from 2000 through 2004.

In a recent poll by the Pew Hispanic Center, almost two-thirds of those asked said that they were following this year’s election “very or somewhat” closely. Mark Hugo Lopez, director of the Center notes, “These poll findings, coming on the heels of a spirited Obama-Clinton nomination fight that led to rises in the Latino share of the vote in many democratic primaries, suggest that the Hispanic community is politically energized.”

Representing 15% of the total US population and 9% of the eligible electorate, and even more in important swing states such as Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada–both McCain and Obama have invested a lot of money, time and energy courting our communities. So have any of these efforts paid off? Apparently so, at least for Barack Obama and the Democrats who found themselves the overwhelming favorites as far as the Latino community is concerned. According to the findings of the Pew Hispanic Center, approximately 66% of those polled said they favored Senator Obama compared to only 23% for Senator McCain. Lopez points out, “Obama seems to be even more popular than Hillary Clinton among Latinos.”

This marks a sharp turnaround for the Democratic presidential contender who lost the Latino vote by a margin of 2-1 in the Super Tuesday primaries. At the heart of Obama’s popularity is the perception among Latinos that he, along with the Democratic party, are better equipped to handle the bread and butter issues such as education, economy and health care.

Regardless of who you’re voting for, it is important that you exercise this fundamental right of democracy! Monday, October 6th is the deadline for voter registration in many important states including: Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida so visit to be sure you’re registered and to find out what the deadlines are in your state. Or click on the voter registration module on the lifestyle channel and follow the instructions on how to register online!