The Latino vote could tip the scales in favor of one candidate in several states that are key to obtain a majority in the Electoral College and where the presidential race is very close. Voters, numbers and geography have given Latinos a growing influence.
That is why the Latino community recently became one of the centers of attention for the presidential campaigns, starting with the speech GOP candidate Mitt Romney gave during the annual meeting of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. This was followed by special interviews President Obama and Romney gave to Univision.
It is worth remembering that the Presidential Debate Commission denied this national Hispanic network’s request to organize a presidential debate. Given this situation, both candidates agreed to participate in one-hour-long special forums broadcast on Univision.
This speaks well of the network and its commitment to Spanish-speaking voters. But it speaks volumes about the political value that these candidates-at this point in the election-place on the Latino community.
The current circumstances for Obama and Romney with Hispanics are very different, as are their expectations for these voters. Obama must recover the trust lost because of unfulfilled promises like a comprehensive immigration reform. Romney must earn this trust and-since he can’t do it with his immigration proposals-is just reminding voters that Obama didn’t keep his word. The Democratic candidate wants to maintain the great gap that is currently in his favor, while the Republican candidate aspires to obtain 38% of the Latino vote.
What the forums did was highlight the clear differences in styles and manners between the two candidates on immigration, the economy and other very important issues.
We think the efforts made by the candidates, and the network, will help the decisions Spanish-speaking voters will make. This is particularly relevant for the races in swing states that are still up for grabs, like North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan and Virginia, among others.
We have repeatedly said that Latinos benefit when both parties compete for their vote. Because of that, last week was good for Hispanics.