Virginia’s Latino immigrant vote

The World

There are about 149,000 registered Latino voters in Virginia, only a third of the state population, but also double that number from 2004. in Virginia, here’s a sense of just how close the election may be. This director of a non-profit organization for immigrants says just a few years ago, a Republican candidate for senator beat the Democratic candidate by a few thousand votes. So if Latinos vote, they could be the deciding factor in the state and therefore entire election. Historically Latinos don’t vote in large numbers. In the 2004 election, only 47% of registered Hispanic voters cast ballots, compared with 67% of white voters. At the non-profit, they’re trying to change that trend. A handful of volunteers calls Latinos in Virginia reminding them to vote. Like all the volunteers, this man isn’t pushing a particular candidate, just pushing a reminder. Latinos in northern Virginia may not need too much reminding this year. The local county last year enacted one of the strictest illegal immigrant laws in the nation. The county became a focal point in the national immigration debate, and many immigrants�legal and illegal�left the county, but this analyst says the law also mobilized the Latino population and made them say we’ve got to become involved in the political process. Sure enough, in Latino neighborhoods they’re taking this election very seriously. This restaurant owner says this will be his first time to vote because he didn’t care before. He says he’s voting for Obama because he cares about the economy and immigration. Polls show Obama has a lead in Virginia, but several pundits say Obama hasn’t connected as deeply with Latinos as he has with other voters. At this mall, more people said they’d vote for Obama, but it’s far from Obama mania. This man says he’s still undecided but is leaning towards McCain. But he says it’s doesn’t matter who his neighbors are voting for as long as they vote and show that Latinos can’t be pushed around.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.