Immigration and the Latino Electorate Under President Obama’s Second Term

The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute has prepared the following series examining  the implications of President Barack Obama’s re-election.

Miguel Salazar

Miguel R. Salazar, Program Assistant, Mexico Institute, 11/7/2012

Barack Obama was elected president for a second time last night. In his victory speech he referenced the importance of national diversity and renewed his commitment to move immigration reform forward.

Preliminary results indicate that Obama drew a significant bastion of support from the Latino electorate. This included states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida with Hispanic populations of upwards of 20% and New Mexico with more than 45%. Of the total 2012 electorate, 10% were Latino. President Obama beat estimates for support among this group, garnering 72% of the Latino vote.

These numbers are a call to action for Obama, and it gives him the opportunity to capitalize on overwhelming Latino support by redoubling his efforts to address immigration issues.

A number of rising stars in the both parties, such as Democratic Congressman-elect Joaquin Castro in Texas, rode into office on the coattails of monumental Latino support, and Ted Cruz, a Republican, became the first Latino Senator-elect from Texas, although in another high profile race, Democrat Richard Carmona lost the Senate election in Arizona. The 2012 election has helped solidify issues of central importance for Latinos on the national stage such as jobs, education, and immigration.

Given the significance of the Latino vote, it is likely that we’ll see a more measured approach to immigration issues coming from members of both parties going forward. The Supreme Court’s recent decision on SB 1070, Obama’s deferred action plan, and the passage of a state Dream Act bill in Maryland, which also passed last night, will likely guarantee that the immigration debate will continue over the next several years

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