Prof: Democratic Party will capture Latino vote in 2012

October 8, 2012  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The 2012 presidential election will solidify the Latino electorate's support for one party, says a Purdue University political science professor.

"The Republican Party made some strides with the Latino electorate when George W. Bush ran for office because he was from the southwest and understood the Latino culture, but Republican candidates have been losing ground since then," says James McCann, professor of political science who focuses on public opinion and Latino political participation. "The discourse during this year's Republican primary contests, as the potential nominees competed for support among grassroots activists, was alienating to many Latino voters. Mitt Romney's statement about 'self-deportation' for immigrants set a very negative tone that can alienate Latino voters."

The Latino electorate favored Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the 2008 election when he won 67 percent of the vote and the Republican candidate received 31 percent. McCann says he expects that gap to grow even more this election.

The Pew Hispanic Center reported last week that a record 24 million Latinos are eligible to vote, an increase of 22 percent, or 4 million voters, from 2008. The Latino electorate has surpassed the African-American electorate, which usually supports the Democrat Party.

But as the Latino electorate continues to grow, it also will evolve to be a diverse group, which will require both parties to build bridges to a variety of Latino constituencies, McCann says.

"Election issues, such as jobs and the economy, that excite Middle America also are of interest to Latinos, but many of them are not that far away from personal migration experiences and there is an element of cultural distinctiveness," McCann says. "Latinos are naturally more community minded, and the individualism that is often central to Mitt Romney's rhetoric, such as getting ahead on your own, may rub people the wrong way."

McCann is the co-author of "Democratizing Mexico: Public Opinion and Electoral Choices" and is working on a book about how Latino immigrants respond to American party politics.

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: James McCann, 765-494-0738, mccannj@purdue.edu

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