WASHINGTON — A record 14.7 million Latino voters sat out the 2010 midterm elections, according to a new report by the Pew Hispanic Center that shows the nation’s fastest growing minorities are largely failing to exercise their right to vote.
Along with Asian voters, who appear similarly disengaged, the absence of so many Latino voters at the polls means the political influence of these minority groups will lag behind their demographic strength by years, if not decades.
About 31 percent of eligible Latino and Asian voters cast ballots in the 2010 congressional elections, compared with 49 percent of eligible white voters and 44 percent of eligible blacks, according to the Pew report. Asians comprise a much smaller portion of the electorate than Latinos, though both groups are exploding in size.
While the number of Latino voters increased from 5.6 million in the 2006 election to 6.6 million in 2010, the number of Latinos eligible to vote grew much faster, from 17.3 million to 21.3 million, said Mark Lopez, associate director of the Pew Center and author of the new report. As a result, the gap between potential and actual Latino voters was 3.1 million larger in 2010.
The snapshot of minority voting comes on the heels of a poll showing support for President Obama among Latinos down by more than 25 percentage points compared with the start of his administration.
Obama needs Latinos to show up in force for him in 2012, as they did in 2008, political analysts say.
But the administration has disappointed many Latinos by failing to win immigration reform, while simultaneously increasing deportations.