WBEZ | Latino votes http://www.wbez.org/tags/latino-votes Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Latinos in North Carolina are vital to Obama and the Democratic Party http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/latinos-north-carolina-are-vital-obama-and-democratic-party-102153 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP584479713730.jpg" style="height: 490px; width: 620px; " title="San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro keynotes the Dem convention as the Democrats try to appeal to Latinos in North Carolina and the nation. (AP/Pat Sullivan)" /></div><p>When the Democrats kick off their convention Tuesday in Charlotte, it will be, among other things, a naked attempt to hold on to North Carolina in the electoral college. The prize is 15 electoral votes which, in a close election, can make or break a candidate&rsquo;s quest.</p><p>Just to give you a sense of how difficult that might be, consider that in 2008 President Barack Obama won here by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election_in_North_Carolina,_2008">0.3 percent margin of victory </a>-- only about 14,000 votes.</p><p>Now consider that Bill Clinton, son of the south and keynoter at this week&rsquo;s convention, was never able to claim victory in North Carolina. In fact, the last Democrat to come out ahead in the presidential sweepstakes here was that other southerner, Jimmy Carter -- and only the first time around, in 1976.</p><p>Right now, both <em>Talking Points Memo&rsquo;s</em> <a href="http://polltracker.talkingpointsmemo.com/contests/nc-president-12">&quot;Polltracker</a>,&quot; which combines various polls, and Nate Silver&#39;s <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/author/nate-silver/">&quot;Five Thirty Eight&quot;</a> blog in the <em>New York Times</em>, tip North Carolina to Mitt Romney by one or two percentage points. Silver gives Romney a better than 60 percent chance of taking the state.</p><p>So what will it take for Obama to win here? Believe it or not, Obama&rsquo;s best bet is to appeal directly to North Carolina&rsquo;s Latinos and to hope that, working in tandem with African-Americans, they can provide a heavy block against the GOP, whose candidates are currently ahead in the governor&rsquo;s race (Pat McCory <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Carolina_gubernatorial_election,_2012">leads</a> Walter Dalton&nbsp; by about 7 points) and dead even with the Democrat <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/senate/">in the senate</a>. Any movement in either of those races could affect the top of the state ticket.</p><p>Now, keep in mind Obama&rsquo;s razor thing 14,000 vote 2008 margin and consider these numbers:</p><ul><li>North Carolina&rsquo;s population grew by more than 18 percent since 2000, and a good chunk of those new residents are African-Americans and Latino, who doubled their population in a decade. Together, blacks and Hispanics <a href="http://www.thenation.com/blog/169709/voter-suppression-confederacy-rises-again#">constitute 61 percent</a> of the 1.8 million new residents in the state. Non-Hispanic whites are <a href="http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/37000.html">only 65 percent</a> of the population.</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>About <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-campaign-latinos-20120902,0,3158512.story">100,000 Latinos are registered voters</a> in North Carolina (that&rsquo;s the conservative estimate -- some say twice that) -- more than 40,000 since 2008, which should make Obama&rsquo;s team optimistic. A <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/thenextamerica/demographics/n-c-electorate-reflects-big-demographic-shift-20120529">third of all registered voters</a> in North Carolina are people of color.</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>Sixty percent of North Carolina&rsquo;s Latinos are of Mexican descent, and about 13 percent are Central Americans, according to the U.S. Census. More than 80 percent are under 40 years of age -- meaning that&nbsp; immigration, healthcare and education are strong issues here. Whatever Obama&rsquo;s abysmal deportation numbers, his DREAM Act executive order, the Affordable Care Act and the Pell Grants move should all play well to Latinos here. (But working against him is a Latino unemployment rate here of 10.2, above the national average.)</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>&nbsp;In 2008, African-Americans mirrored their population on the voter rolls at 21 percent, and about 38 percent of Democratic voters. This year, the Obama campaign has launched a <a href="http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/07/25/2221315/black-voters-key-to-nc-presidential.html">massive voter registration drive</a> in the African-American community to preserve that block of voters, but they&rsquo;re also looking at 19 percent black unemployment here, which could dampen some enthusiasm.</li></ul><p>North Carolina is about as toss-up as a state gets, and though the numbers suggest the future belongs to the Democrats, this election is just two months away. It&rsquo;s absolutely anybody&rsquo;s game.</p><p><em>This is the first in an occasional series. In the next few weeks, &rsquo;ll be looking at how Latinos -- the so-called swing vote in this year&rsquo;s presidential election -- play in each of the states where the race is within a few percentage points.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Sep 2012 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/latinos-north-carolina-are-vital-obama-and-democratic-party-102153