Candidate for the Republican presidential nomination Mitt Romney may have recently adopted a hard anti-immigrant stance on a variety of issues, but that does not mean that he has given up on securing at least a portion of the much talked about Latino vote in this November’s general election. At the same time that Romney is coming out in support of Arizona’s much maligned SB 1070, he is releasing Spanish language ads aimed at the Latino electorate. And the candidate is using social media to send targeted messages to Latinos regarding his positions on job creation, national security and a variety of other issues significant to this population.
Although at first glance it may seem a frivolous waste of time and resources to attempt to secure the votes of a group that tends overwhelmingly to vote democratic, especially at the same time that the candidate himself is supporting an immigration and deportation policy that is largely loathed by the Latino population, the reality is that Romney’s efforts may not end up being in vain after all.
Although Latinos are frequently represented in the media as a monolithic voting bloc, this is not an accurate representation of the election day habits of this portion of the U.S. population. In fact, Latinos are a socially and politically diverse group, with diverse opinions. Early on in the 2008 presidential primary season, for example, several of the nation’s most prominent Latino leaders, for example, endorsed Hilary Clinton for the nomination. However, as the ballots started coming in, Clinton found herself receiving only two out of three Latino votes in several states. This election illuminated an often unstated fact that it is perhaps impossible to corral Latino voters into supporting a single candidate or even a single party.
In addition, as Obama has already begun courting Latino voters to his side, he may need all the help he can get, as many of these voters have not been pleased with the president and his policies, especially those regarding immigration reform. In the event that the upcoming election is a close one, a low turnout at the polls by Latino voters could hurt the President’s chances in several states, especially those with large Latino populations. And this is to say nothing about the possibility that many of these voters could be wooed over to the Republican side, which is certainly a possibility.
In Arizona, in particular, Democrats have great hopes for this November’s election, and these hopes largely hinge on the turnout and support of Latino voters. Not only are Democrats counting on Latinos to help win the state for Obama, but they are also counting on these voters to ensure that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio loses his bid for reelection. Without working harder to win this group’s support, it is becoming increasingly likely that, at least here, the Latino vote could be splintered in several different directions.