Several Arizona Latino groups said in a conference call on Tuesday that both parties stand to gain from greater engagement with the state's rapidly growing eligible Hispanic voters.
"It's not enough to wait until 6 weeks before the elections," said Raquel Teran, of Mi Familia Vota. The groups said national Democrats seem to be assuming Arizona is a red state so they are not putting enough resources on the ground, and Republicans assume Latinos will vote Democratic.
Latinos currently make up 30 percent of Arizona's population and are estimated to be 44 percent by 2050. The growth is not due to immigration; 43 percent of American citizens under 18 currently in Arizona are Latino.
Yet in 2012, more than 60 percent of the state's eligible Hispanic voters did not go to the polls, according to a newly released Latino Decisions report commissioned by the pro-immigration reform group America's Voice. Moreover, only half of Arizona's eligible Latinos were registered to vote in the last election.
While the overwhelming majority of the state's Hispanics (79 percent) voted for Obama in 2012, according to an impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll, moderate Republicans such as former President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain have garnered over 40 percent of the Latino vote in some elections, said political scientist Gabriel Sanchez. Thirty eight percent of Arizona's Hispanics, more than in other states polled, said they would be more likely to vote Republican in a future election depending on the candidate's immigration stance.
Citizens for a Better Arizona co-founder Randy Parraz, who led the recall effort against SB1070 architect and state senator Russell Pearce, said Bob Worsley, the founder of SkyMall, beat Pearce by double digits by stressing a more moderate stance on immigration and doing Latino outreach.