Despite significant voter outreach to Latinos across the country, many in the rising electorate apparently stayed away from the polls on Tuesday.
Preliminary exit polls from NBC News show Hispanic voters made up just 8 percent of yesterday’s voters, compared to 10 percent in the 2012 presidential election. In the last midterm election in 2010, they constituted 7 percent of the voters, according to the Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project.
Disenchantment with both parties may be one reason. In a Washington Post/ABC News poll last week, 50 percent of Latinos said it doesn’t matter who wins the Senate.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, calls the Hispanic electorate the “quintessential independent voting constituency” and believes the 2014 outcome indicates widespread frustration with gridlock in Washington.
For both parties, it will become increasingly difficult to ignore the Latino vote as the population explodes.
This year, a record 25.2 million Latinos (11 percent of all voters) were eligible to vote. That number will continue to grow with 40 million Hispanics expected to be eligible to vote in 2030. In 2016, the Center for American Progress projects 900,000 new Hispanic eligible voters in Texas alone.
Immigration reform is a significant concern for Hispanics. A Latino Decisions election eve poll showed that it’s the top issue.
Advocates are now calling on both parties to act on immigration reform. They’re hopeful that President Barack Obama will take action via an executive order in the next month.
They’re also calling on the GOP, which now controls both houses, to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
In a statement released Wednesday Rodriguez said the GOP should pass reform to integrate “millions of undocumented individuals created in God’s image into the fullness of the American experience.”
Matthew Soerens, field director for the Evangelical Immigration Table, tweeted that the “GOP now has opportunity to prove it can lead. Immigration reform is a great place to start – and maybe the only way they can win presidency in ’16.”
Undoubtedly, the day will come when Latinos are essential for a White House victory. How soon that comes and how both parties prepare is the big question.