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Local Latino vote proves crucial in general election

Hispanics turn out in record numbers, trend likely to continue

November 9, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Despite claims by many Republicans that the Hispanic vote would make little impact during the general election, polling results tell a different story.

The Latino vote has continued to rise, more than doubling since 1988, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent Current Population Survey Report.

Here in Marshall County, Hispanics turned out in droves, said Maria Garcia-Moreno, who helped coordinate efforts for the Obama campaign. She said a record number of Latinos registered to vote in the general election.

Article Photos

Liliana Perez, casts her ballot at an early voting polling place behind The Mirage Hotel Casino Oct. 20 in Las Vegas.

She said the president's Deferred Action policy acted as a carrot to many voters who want to see their families continue to work toward legal status.

"They are not just helping themselves, they are helping their children, their grandchildren," she said.

Hispanic voting blocs represent a shift in America's electorate. Each month for the next decade, 50,000 Hispanics will turn 18, according to the Pew Research Center.

With a Hispanic population 152,000 strong, Iowa's Latino vote could matter increasingly more as more Hispanics come into voting age. Especially since, despite often conservative social values, many Hispanic voters lean Democrat, identifying themselves as Democrats at a 3-1 ratio, according to the Pew Research Center.

Garcia-Moreno said the Obama campaign estimated that 26,000 Latinos in Iowa voted in the 2012 election, up from roughly 22,000 in 2008.

Voting data shows that Obama edged out Romney in the county by more than 1,600 votes. And with nearly a quarter of Marshalltown's population being Hispanic, it is unlikely that those roughly 6,500 potential voters had no impact locally.

Veronica Guevara, Marshalltown native, interns in Washington, D.C. She said Hispanics there overwhelmingly care about immigration issues too. It's not just a Marshalltown thing. And as that cultural shift continues, she said she is curious to see how it changes the political landscape.

"We have changed the way people eat, the way people dance," she said. "I think this is just the beginning for Marshall County."

Garcia-Moreno said convincing Hispanics that they have a stake in voting proved somewhat of a challenge. In Mexico and other countries, voting is very different. Often, citizens have little faith in the government because of rampant corruption, stymieing their desire to vote.

However, she said she hopes seeing voting's impact will create a positive correlation, prompting those coming of age to continue the trend.

"We are interested in politics," Garcia-Moreno said. "We are perceived as not caring Many Latinos - they just don't always feel welcome. But we do care."



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