An early Latino vote characterizes the 2012 election

43% of Hispanic voters surveyed by the ImpreMedia - Latino Decisions Election Eve Poll voted before election day

An early Latino vote characterizes the 2012 election
Voters cast their ballots in a polling station set inside the Latin American Motorcycle Association Hall in Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.
Foto: AP / Jerome Delay

Latino voters had a high incidence of early voting in this election according to the ImpreMedia – Latino Decisions Election Eve Poll. Forty-three percent of respondents nationally voted early by way of absentee or mail-in ballots and the figure was significantly higher in certain states: 75% in Colorado, 60% in Arizona, 57% in North Carolina, 54% in Texas, 53% in New Mexico and 52% in Florida. Matt Barreto, cofounder of Latino Decisions commented that “Almost nothing has being reported in the news media about Latino early vote. This Election Eve Poll allows us to answer the question, “Do Latinos engage in early voting?” The conclusion is definitely yes according to this study.

Other states had comparatively lower rates of early voting among Latinos, although in real terms they are also relevant: for example, California with 43% and Ohio 33%. Virginia fell behind with 20%, possibly because that state requires a special authorization to vote before Election Day, as explained by Latino Decisions pollsters.

As for the relationship between early voting and the national origin of Latino voters, people of Cuban descent are the ones that exercised early voting the most (57%), followed by Mexicans (45%). Puerto Ricans, Central Americans and Dominicans, however, exercised this right at lower levels: 32%, 32% and 25%, respectively. Those originating in South America did so by 43%.

The Impremedia / Latino Decisions Election Eve Poll was conducted between November 1-5 among 5,600 Latinos who had exercised their early voting right or were completely sure of voting on Election Day. It was conducted across a national sample and additional samples in 11 key states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New México, Nevada, Ohio, Texas and Virginia.

In addition, early voting nationally was more common among Republican Latinos at 46% over the 43% of Democrats and the 41% of those who are considered Independent.

Data on early voting also have variations in terms of age. For example, Latinos older than 66 years were the ones that exercised their right to early voting the most at 53%. On the other hand, Latino voters between the ages of 18 and 30 did it to a lesser extent with only 33%.

When it comes to gender, men and women alike voted in advance at the same rate as the overall national average of 43% and there were also little differences by socio-economic levels. 43% of those with a college education voted early and 42% of those without a college education also voted early. And 41% of Latino voters who make $40,000 a year or less voted early, compared to 42% of those who earn $80,000 a year or more.

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The ImpreMedia – Latino Decisions Election Eve Poll also explored the issue of Latino political mobilization and the degree of contact that these voters had with the campaigns of the candidates or with community organizations promoting voting and political rights of Hispanics.

In this respect, the data from this study showed that Latino voters living in states considered undecided and key to the outcome of the presidential election, such as Colorado, Nevada or Ohio, were in a much more intense contact with the political party campaigns and community organizations than those living in non-competitive states. 59% of Latino voters in Colorado and 52% in Ohio said they were contacted by a party or organization that invited them to vote or register to vote. And 75% of those in Colorado said they had been in contact with the Democrats, 40% with Republicans and 33% with community organizations. In the case of Nevada, these figures were 67% of Latino voters contacting Democrats, 44% Republicans and 22% civic groups. In Ohio, the figures were 74%, 52% and 27%, respectively.

Analysts from Latino Decisions explained that these differences in the level of contact between Latinos and parties or organizations that promote or seek the vote shows the importance in mobilizing these communities varies depending on how competitive the state is. The need to win the Latino vote would have led parties and groups to increase their presence in those swing states.

In contrast, Latino voters in states with the highest Latino population such as California and Texas were exposed much less to campaign messages and targeting. Only 31% of Latino voters in California and 25% in Texas said they had been contacted by a party or organization that invited them to vote or register to vote. And their level of contact with Democrats, Republicans and civic groups was 55% -31% -46% in California and 54% -43% -32% in Texas, respectively.

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Latino Decisions completed 5,600 interviews with Latinos who have already voted, or were certain to vote in the November 6, 2012 presidential election. Interviews were conducted via telephone with live callers, all of whom were bilingual, and interviews were completed in the language of preference of the respondent. Overall, 62% of interviews were completed in English and 38% in Spanish. Respondents were reached on landline and cell phone-only households, from November 1-5, 2012 and averaged 12 minutes in length.

Voters were pre-screened based on their vote history in previous presidential elections, and date of registration to include a mix of new registrants and first-time voters. Respondents were asked if they had already voted early, and if not, if they were 100% certain they would vote on November 6th. Any respondent who was not certain was terminated. For 11 individual states, a minimum of 400 interviews were completed to provide state-specific reliable estimates. For the remaining 39 states and the District of Columbia an additional national sample was completed, and then combined with the 11 stand-alone state samples for an overall combined nationally proportionate sample. The national sample of 5,600 is directly proportionate to the Latino voter population nationwide, and is weighted to reflect the known Census demographics for Latino voters.

The national sample carries an overall margin of error of 1.8%. California and Florida each had 800 completed interviews and carry a margin of error of 3.5%. The remaining 9 individual states sampled: AZ, CO, MA, NC, NM, NV, OH, TX, VA all had 400 completed interviews and carry a margin of error of 4.9%. Interviewing was administered and overseen by Pacific Market Research.

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