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Latino Voters: Low Turnout, Less Support for Democrats

A voter fills our a provisional ballot by hand for the midterm elections at a polling place in Annapolis, Md., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)Carolyn Kaster / AP

Voter groups and parties tried to urge Latinos to vote as a matter of cultural pride and civic duty, despite inaction on immigration and traditionally low participation in the midterms. But Latinos appear to have sat out this election, based on preliminary exit polls and data reported by NBC News, contributing to a Republican sweep in tight races where the Hispanic vote might have made a difference.

Hispanic voters made up only 8 percent of 2014 voters, compared to 10 percent in 2012, a disappointment to voter advocates who hoped that Latino votes would increase at least due to the growing population. In 2010, the last midterm election year, they were 7 percent of voters, according to Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project.

And Democrats did not garner the support they were hoping to get from Latino voters.

In 2012, Democrats enjoyed a wide margin over Republicans; 71 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama to 27 percent for Romney - a 44 percent advantage for the Dems. But as NBC News' Carrie Dann reports, in Tuesday's elections Hispanics voted for Democrats by a margin of 28 percent.

In Florida - even with a tight and hard-fought congressional race between two Latinos - Hispanics made up only 13 percent of the electorate, which helped keep the state in Republican hands. Before the election voter groups were hoping the growing numbers of Latino voters in the Sunshine State - especially Puerto Rican voters who are U.S. citizens - would boost the numbers, yet turnout was not as big as expected.

In Colorado, where Republican Rep. Cory Gardner defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall for the U.S. Senate, Latino turnout was estimated to be about 13 percent, close to the 14 percent share of the electorate.

--By Sandra Lilley