Latino Voters in Arizona

Nov 4th, 2008 | By ffolwell | Category: Latest News

November 4, 2008

By Jed Layton

Phoenix, Arizona - Dust swirled in the air picking up straw and bits of cotton from a field nearby.  Vic Lopez had beads of sweat on his forehead and his cowboy hat had a ring of moisture around where it touched his head.

Lopez, a convenience store manager from Laveen, Arizona, was nervous while waiting in a long line to cast his ballot.  He had not voted in the 16 years since he became an American citizen after emigrating from Mexico.

“The change to vote is worth the wait,” he said.  Lines in Laveen polling stations ranged form as long as 30 minutes to three hours.  “I didn’t vote last election and regretted it ever since.”

Lopez is among a group many political analysts felt was key to winning for the two presidential candidates.  In some swing states, they had an influential impact.

According the CNN exit polls, Latino voters made up 41 percent of those casting ballots.  The polls indicated Obama obtained 69 percent of Latino voters helping him win five electoral votes from the southern swing state.

In Florida, Latinos were 14 percent of voters.  Obama also won a majority of their vote there 57 percent to Sen. John McCain who obtained 42 percent.  Florida went to Obama; its 27 electoral votes giving him a huge lead early on election night.

Obama also took the advantage of Latino voters in Colorado and Virginia—two other swing states the next president won.

Jorge Garcia stood in line sitting on a small lawn chair he brought for the wait.  He expected a lot of Latinos would vote for Obama, he said.  A private contractor from Laveen, Garcia mentioned he had never voted for McCain when he ran for the U.S. Senate.

“I will not vote for him today as president either,” he said.  “He has not done his part in helping Hispanic or other immigrants.”

Anita Sanchez, a stay at home mom from Laveen, said many Latino’s felt they had a common thread with Obama because he was the son of a foreigner.  Obama’s father was from Kenya.

“When I see Obama, I see the potential of my two boys,” she said.  “I think his education and social programs will help my family in ways that I can’t on my own.”

However, not all Latino’s were about to vote for Obama.

Sasha Gomez, a third-generation Mexican American in recreation management at Arizona State University, said her social beliefs impacted her decision to vote for McCain the most.  She still has concerns over McCain’s ability to turn the economy and American’s standing in the world around.

“Most of my friends and family feel the same way I do,” Gomez said.  “We feel morally obligated to vote conservative but worry that doing so will hurt our economic future.”

Gomez speculated that with time, economic worry would overwhelm social concerns.

“A lot of the older, long time Latino residents are solid, strong Republicans,” she said.  “But because of the economy, some of the communities are starting to be a little more liberal. But enough to vote for Obama? Who knows?”


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