By Suzanne Gamboa
WASHINGTON – In a year when Democrats are struggling to energize supporters, Hispanic voters appear significantly less motivated than the rest of the U.S. to cast election ballots even though two-thirds of Latino registered voters say they’ll vote Democratic in their congressional race, a Pew Hispanic Center study shows.
The center’s national survey, released Tuesday, found 51 percent of Latino registered voters were absolutely certain they would vote — compared with 70 percent of U.S. voters — and 65 percent of Latino voters planned to support the Democrat in their congressional district, compared with 47 percent of U.S. voters.
They are pledging that support even though only 26 percent of the voters said the policies of President Barack Obama’s administration have helped Latinos. Thirteen percent said the administration’s policies hurt Latinos, while 51 percent said they had no effect.
“The Latino vote appears to continue to strongly identify with the Democratic Party,” said Mark Lopez, Pew Hispanic Center’s associate director.
About 19.3 million Latinos, the nation’s largest minority group, are eligible to vote, Pew Hispanic estimates. Two of every three live in California, Texas, Florida and New York.
Latinos voted more than 2-to-1 for Obama in 2008. But the sagging economy and outrage among some voters has the Democratic Party concerned about a general apathy among its core supporters and some newer and independent voters.
Latino voter turnout generally is lower than for U.S. registered voters overall. But the Latino share of all voters increased from 6 percent in 2004 to 7.4 percent in 2008, according to Pew Hispanic’s data. Nearly half of Latino eligible voters say they voted in 2008.
The Pew Hispanic Center’s survey also found:
- Thirty-eight percent of Latino voters whose primary language is Spanish are absolutely certain to vote this year.
- Republican Latino registered voters are more likely than Democratic Latino registered voters to say they have given the election quite a lot of thought, 44 percent versus 28 percent.
- Among Latino registered voters who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, 18 percent say the GOP is better for Latinos than the Democratic Party, while 60 percent say they see no difference.