WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNEWS.COM) – As their party vies to seize control of the U.S. House of Representatives during next week’s midterm elections, some Democrats are apprehensive about the turnout of Latino voters — a nearly 30 million strong voting bloc.
Hispanic voters will make up 12.8 percent of the American electorate on November 6 and have the potential to swing elections across the country, from tight congressional races in Republican-held seats in south Florida and California’s south coast, to high-profile gubernatorial and U.S. Senate contests in Texas, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.
The challenge for Democrats is galvanizing an electorate that historically has not turned out to cast their ballots in large numbers in midterm elections. According to the non-partisan Pew Research Center, the Latino voter turnout rate in midterm elections has continuously declined since 2006 — and hit an all-time low of 27 percent during the elections in 2014.
In deep-red Texas, where bullish Democrats dream of unseating Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, Latinos are a three-million strong voting group that represents nearly 30 percent of the state’s electorate. Cristina Tzintún, a progressive Mexican-American activist, told CBS News that Texas’ Hispanic community is a sleeping giant that has largely been overlooked by political campaigns.
“Both major parties have failed to invest in our communities,” she said. “You have Democratic candidates say that Latinos don’t go out and vote in larger numbers, so they don’t put money into voting for them. But then Latinos say they’re not voting because nobody is contacting them.”