Democrats were hurt in the midterm election by low turnouts or faltering support from voters who were young, black or female. ButÂ overwhelming support from Hispanic voters appears to have helped elect Democratic senators in Nevada, California, Colorado and possibly Washington State. Hispanic voters may have kept the Senate in Democratic hands.
Several Hispanic Republicans were also elected, including two governors, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and a senator, Marco Rubio of Florida. But, over all, Hispanics voted at a rate of 2 to 1 for Democrats, according to several polls, and many were stirred to action by viciously anti-immigrant ads or comments made by Republican candidates.
Eligible Hispanic voters represent about 9 percent of the national electorate, a slight increase over previous years, but the percentages are much higher in the West, climbing to 22 percent in California. They are less predictably partisan than other ethnic groups and the two major parties have long contested for their votes. Early polls had suggested that many were disappointed in both parties for failing to act on immigration reform, and it appeared that they might sit out the midterms.
As the Hispanic electorate continues to grow faster than the overall population in the years ahead, the 2010 election should be a useful lesson. Anti-immigrant demagoguery occasionally works, as it did in a number of Republican victories in Arizona this year. But more often it will produce an angry reaction among a growing group of committed voters.