The Latino Vote: The Wild Card of the Elections?

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New polling numbers have given the Democrats some assurance that they can count on the Latino vote in next month's elections. However, the research also shows that Latinos are less likely to vote and it shows that many Hispanic faith voters are split as to which party they'll support.

The more than 40 million Hispanics in the U.S. have become a voting group that cannot be ignored -- especially in powerhouse states like California, Texas, Nevada and Colorado.

Just who will Hispanics vote for this year? Traditionally, they're a solid Democratic voting bloc and at first glance -- it appears they'll stay on course this year, despite that national support for Democrats is eroding.

The latest research from the Pew Hispanic Center shows two-thirds of Latino Hispanic voters said they'll support their Democratic congressional candidate. That number compares to about one-quarter who said they'll vote Republican.

Still, will they vote? Only half of the respondents said yes -- they're absolutely certain -- compared to 70 percent of all U.S. registered voters.

Yet, Republican Latino registered voters are more likely to have given the election quite a lot of thought compared to their Democratic counterparts, and that could make a difference in getting out the vote.

"What we're seeing is that Latinos are just like other registered voters in the sense that those who are motivated to participate in this particular election happen to be Republican," said Mark Lopez of the Pew Hispanic Center.

Faith may also help decide who will or won't vote. Pew said Hispanic Protestants, which make up one-fifth of Latino registered voters, are split in their party support.

"There is a quaisi-schism in the Hispanic American community," said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who heads the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference -- the country's largest Christian Latino organization. "Faith voters are galvanized. Non-faith voters are saying, 'Maybe this is one we want to hold off on and put pause.'"

Rodriguez said faith voters are confused, feeling burned by both parties on immigration reform. Yet they still want to vote for candidates that represent their Biblical world view on issues like abortion and the definition of a family.

"What I'm hearing from pastors, the denominational leaders and the mega-church pastors about this election is that there is a new re-engagement of the constituency to address some of the social issues," Rodriguez said.

If Hispanics do turn out for the election it will only reinforce what both parties know -- their political power is on the rise.

Latinos constitute the largest minority group in the U.S. and it is estimated their numbers will grow from 40 million to over 100 million by the year 2050.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.