Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Powerful Voting Block: Latino Voters

At the conclusion of this year's election season, while there was much debate about why candidates won and lost, both parties essentially agreed that the Latino vote was critically important to the election—and will be so in future elections, too.

This year, 23.7 million Latinos were eligible to vote—an increase by more than 4 million since 2006.  As Christina Martinez and Julio Fuentes (the head of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options) write, this election resulted in historic numbers of Latino voters and Latino officials:  Latinos represent 11 percent of voters in 2012—up from 8.2 percent in 2004. And let's not forget that Latino officials serve in the state legislators of 36 states.

As candidates from both parties begin to heavily campaign to Latino voters in coming elections, they should keep in mind the sure place to win support: in education policy.

According to a poll commissioned by the American Federation for Children and HCREO in May 2012, Latino voters in five battleground states strongly support educational choice:

  • Ninety-one percent of Latinos—in five key states—Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Nevada—think voucher or scholarship tax credit programs should be available in some form.
  • A strong majority of Latinos also support specific types of educational options: 69 percent support voucher programs, 71 percent support scholarship tax credit programs, and 70 percent support education savings accounts.
  • An astonishing 80 percent of Latinos support special needs scholarship programs, which can be in the form of voucher programs, scholarship tax credit programs, and education savings account programs.
Latino voters have shown that they support educational options; they have also shown that they vote in large numbers.  Let’s hope elected officials notice and put strong support behind much-needed educational choice.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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