More than 1 million new Hispanic voters are likely to go to the polls this November, with most of the increases in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, the association representing Hispanic officials predicted Tuesday.
About 6.9 million Latinos should vote in 2004 compared to 5.9 million in 2000, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund predicted, based on voting and registration trends and Census data. That would increase their share of the national vote from 5.4 percent to 6.1 percent.
The increases will not be uniform, ranging from a mere 8,000 in Colorado and 11,000 in New Mexico to 70,000 in Arizona, 391,000 in California, and 194,000 in Texas.
Colorado and New Mexico have relatively stable populations of native-born Hispanics, while most new Hispanic voters will come from the ranks of naturalized Americans, said Arturo Vargas of the association.
One-half of the Hispanic voting population lives in Texas, President Bush's home state, or California, where Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is favored.
But Latino voters could make a difference in New Mexico, Colorado, Florida and Arizona, which were all close in 2000, and have an impact in states like Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Vargas said.
The association is predicting a hefty increase from 2000 in the Hispanic share of the vote in Arizona, 15 percent to 17.9 percent; California, 13.9 percent to 16.8 percent, Florida, 11.3 percent, to 13.2 percent; Illinois, 11.3 percent to 13.2 percent, and Texas, from 18.6 percent to 20.4 percent.
It also is predicting smaller increases in voter share in Colorado, 9.7 percent to 10 percent; New Jersey, 5.6 percent to 6 percent; New Mexico, 29.5 percent to 29.9 percent; and New York, 7.2 percent to 7.8 percent.
Vargas said that both Bush and Kerry would make a mistake if they talk only about Hispanic issues. In forums around the country, officials have found that education and the economy, and lately Iraq, were the top concerns of Hispanic voters, said Vargas.
"Increasingly, Latinos are concerned about the issues all Americans care about," he said.