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The Republican nominee selected to run for president in 2016 will need to get a higher share of Latino votes than in the past - as high as almost half in some key battleground states, according to a new analysis by Latino Decisions.
That’s a high mountain to climb for the Republican Party considering it’s twice the percentage that Mitt Romney received when he ran as the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. Back then, Romney received just 23 percent of the Latino vote.
Even if the Republican Party wins 60 percent of the white vote—which hasn’t done in a presidential election since 1988—the Republican presidential nominee would need to get 42 percent and in another scenario as high as 47 percent of Latino votes in order to win the popular vote, the study finds. In 2012, Romney got 59 percent of the white vote.
The analysis was conducted for America's Voice, a group that advocates for immigration reform.
For years, the conventional wisdom has been that Republicans need at least 40 percent of the Latino vote to win an election. They based this "Latino threshold," -as it was referred in the study - on the 2004 election, when George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote and beat then-Sen. John Kerry. Latino Decisions argues that the 40 percent Latino voter threshold is no longer reliable.
“When we talk about the national Latino vote, Republicans cannot simply win if they target 40 percent,” said Matt Barreto co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions. “That is a metric of 12 years ago when the electorate looked very different.”
He added that while the national figure is useful as a goal post for Republicans, it’s also important to look at the Latino voter threshold in key battleground states, where it varies from a low 42 percent to a high of 47 percent.
In New Mexico, the state with the largest Latino voter share, the Republican presidential candidate needs 42 percent of the Latino vote to win. In others key states, it would be 44 percent in Colorado, 45 percent in Nevada, and 47 percent in Florida.
The Latino Decisions analysis also estimates 13.1 million Latinos will turn out to vote in 2016, up from 11.2 million in 2012. And it predicts Latinos will make up 10.4 percent of the electorate next year. “But in order for that to happen, robust Latino voter mobilization has to take place,” Barreto said.
America's Voice executive director, Frank Sharry said the analysis offers a “snapshot of how currently the Republicans do seem to have quite a mountain to climb to be truly competitive in retaking the White House with the Latino vote.”
Following the report, Ruth Guerra, Director of Hispanic Media for the Republican National Committee (RNC), questioned the accuracy of their polling, saying Latino Decisions was a left-leaning organization, so they would take the results in context.
"Latinos have heard the same story from Democrats for far too long, whether it's the economy, education or immigration," Guerra said.