MANCHESTER, N.H. — There's no Latino wall of voters in this New England state, but as Hillary Clinton's lead over Donald Trump has narrowed here, the small Hispanic electorate is figuring into the race's outcome.
Clinton and Trump have been battling it out here, where four electoral votes are at stake. The state remains a tossup in the final NBC Battleground map.
Both candidates have visited the state a record number of times and both sent the big guns. The Obamas came, and the visit included a speech by the president to a packed audience in Manchester Sunday. Trump held his own rally just a few minutes away.
Also in play is the state's U.S. Senate race where the contest between Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican and Incumbent Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan also is considered a tossup.
The high-profile attention is sending the message that every vote will count.
Diego Cataño, a retired Air Force veteran and an avid Trump supporter knows this.
“We are 28 in my family and we will all vote for Trump,” he said. “By the way, not one of us has been called by a pollster.” Trump supporters believe polls showing Hillary ahead are missing his supporters.
A conservative who voted for Marco Rubio during the primary, Cataño arrived in the US as a teen.
“My parents came here legally and that is how we should all enter this country,” he said. “I studied both candidates and while I am not completely happy with Trump, I will vote for him. The stupidest thing is to stay home.”
Latinos make up 3.3 percent of the state's population. According to a Pew Center study, 52.6 of the Latino population is eligible to vote, ranking the state 11th in the nation in terms of the share of the Latino population eligible to vote.
Colombia native German Jose Ortiz also is a proud Trump supporter. A community leader from Bedford, New Hampshire who speaks with a thick accented English, knows that he in the small minority of Latinx voters who will cast their votes for Trump.
However, Ortiz is unfazed.There are bigger problems that worry him, he said. A married father of two, Ortiz said he believes that his adopted nation is about to go down in flames and the best option to save it is to vote for the Republican nominee.
“It’s Trump or democracy is over,” said the 51-year-old. “It’s a moral question for me. I lost my native country to corruption and drug violence, I will not lose my adoptive one. Trump is not perfect but he is the better choice.”
Ortiz arrived in New Hampshire with a political asylum visa more than two decades ago. He was a refugee from Colombia’s decades-long civil war. His youngest brother was killed by narco-guerillas in 1996.
He and his wife are small business owners. She owns a small corporate cleaning business that employs eight workers, mostly Dominican immigrants. He operates a small business center, helping Spanish language residents with translations and permits. He is a licensed family mediator and real estate agent.
Both Ortiz and Cataño are in the tiny minority of Latinos nationally who say they plan to vote for Trump. According to a Telemundo Noticias/Latino Decisions/NALEO poll, only 14 percent of Latino voters said they would support the Republican nominee. The same poll found that Trump support among Latino voters is the lowest in 30 years for any presidential candidate.
Clara Muñoz, also a Colombia immigrant, is passionate about the race. A lifelong Democrat, the grandmother of two planned to vote for Hillary Clinton.
Voting for a woman is thrilling for Muñoz.
“I am happy that Clinton will continue the work that President Obama started,” she said. “And I find it wonderful that a country that has elected a black man can now elect a woman. It shows a lot about democracy.”
In a surprising announcement, Carlos Gonzalez, a Latino Republican representative in the New Hampshire legislature, announced on Facebook that he voted for Hillary Clinton early Tuesday morning. “...Lets vote our conscience for ‘GOD & country’ for ‘unity & love’. Together we can! Together we can keep America "strong" and preserve it as the ‘greatest nation’ on earth. Vote Hillary Clinton for President of USA.”
Born in Neyba, Dominican Republic, Gonzalez a five-term incumbent who is known as a conservative Latino in the New Hampshire Legislature. He could not be reached for comment.