In the days and weeks before the 2010 midterm elections, pundits, politicians and reporters investigated the ways in which minority voters could affect each race. However, they may have overlooked an increasingly large bloc of voters – the New Americans.
The New Americans, a loosely defined group that includes naturalized U.S. citizens as well as the U.S.-born children of immigrants whose parents came from Latin American and Asia after 1965, are quickly gaining a powerful clout in the voting booths. More in tune with their families’ past than the rest of America, New Americans are largely sensitive to immigration law and immigration reform. They turn out in droves against politicians who use anti-immigrant rhetoric, much more so than the people who support that rhetoric.
A recent Immigration Policy Center special report found that New Americans counted for 10.2 percent of all registered voters in 2008, which was a 101.5 percent increase from 1996. Similarly, Latinos and Asians accounted for 10.7 percent of all registered voters in 2008, a 79.4 percent increase from 1996.
These growing blocs of largely pro-immigration voters hold a tremendous influence in key states across the U.S. In Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, registered New American voters exceed the margin of votes between candidates in the 2008 presidential elections. In theory, this means that whichever candidate gains the favor of the New American vote will win the election. Including the Latino and Asian voters not part of the New American bloc adds Colorado, Hawaii and New Mexico to the list.
New American voters, and specifically Latino voters, are widely influenced by a candidate’s stance on immigration. LatinoMetrics, an information tracker for economists, brand marketers, news and media organizations and policy makers, conducted a poll that found one out of every four Latino voters cite immigration as the top issue in the U.S. and eight out of 10 Latino voters said that immigration reform is “of extreme importance.” A similar poll conducted by Dr. Ricardo Ramirez from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials found that 27 percent of Latino voters said immigration was their No. 1 concern when deciding who to vote for.
Understanding the needs and desires of New Americans can make or break a candidate in key battleground states such as Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. Immigrants to the United States are a political force to be reckoned with, and politicians must take heed of their power if they wish to be successful in future elections.
Stewart Rabinowitz is President of Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C. Mr. Rabinowitz is Board Certified in Immigration and Nationality Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To contact a Dallas immigration lawyer or Dallas immigration attorney visit Rabinowitzrabinowitz.com