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A Model to Forecast the Latino Vote?

Posted: Apr 08, 2012

We have all been hearing for some time now how “critical” the Latino vote will be in November. A group of Latino political scientists say they have developed a way to show - and forecast - how Latinos might or might not tip the election in some competitive states this year.

With the support of America’s Voice Education Fund, a public policy organization that focuses on immigration issues, Latino Decisions has developed a model that will regularly input the local variations in the Latino vote in each state.

Latino numbers and voter preferences, for example, will be changed in an ”interactive” model after a new tracking poll of Latinos, or after new information on voter records. The data will be adjusted for the next seven months, until Election Day, Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions explains.

Looking at state-specific data, they will take into account local factors such as the effect of new voter ID laws, for instance, or the voter roll changes as more Latinos turn 18 and register in different states.

The group says that national elections are won “state by state,” and the key is to figure out whether the Latino vote “can single-handedly cause a state to flip from Republican to Democrat - or vice-versa, from Democrat to Republican.”

How does the model work? In Florida, Latinos make up 16 percent of the voters. This model predicts that if a Republican gets 51 percent of the non-Latino vote, it would need 45 percent of Florida Hispanics to vote Republican in order to win the state. But if the Republican candidate gets less than 49 percent of the non-Latino vote, he would need 56 percent of the Latino vote to win the state.

The political scientists explain it is not the size of the Latino voters in any particular state that determines their influence, but their turnout. In Virginia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Latinos are only between 3 to 5 percent of the electorate, but they can “tip” a state’s results if the non-Latino vote is almost evenly split, which could happen in places like Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Barreto says his goal is “to give our best guesses, up until the day before November’s elections.” The Latino political scientists hope their numbers prove “objective and verifiable.”

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