Politics

Latino voters could shape Texas' political future

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Texas vote is changing. And maybe the most critical part of that change is the ballots cast by Hispanics.

"Hispanics are going to play an important role in this election and every election to come," said Hector Nieto with the Lone Star Project.

The Lone Star Project is a political action committee that reaches out to Democrats, and he says the effort to turn Texas blue will include a heavy push to get Hispanics to the polls.

"Candidates from both parties are going to try to reach out to Hispanics, but it's going to be those candidates who can personally relate to Hispanics, on a one-on-one basis, that will be able to obtain that vote," Nieto said.

As far as Hispanic political influence in Texas though, that is still a developing story. Both parties knowing they have to work hard to keep or gain the Hispanic vote and ultimately control the state capitol.

It's not just Texas where Hispanic voters are of growing importance.

A year ago, we saw a concerted effort by Republicans across the country trying to reach Latino voters ahead of the presidential election.

"There are a growing number of Americans of Hispanic descent who are open minded," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in October 2012.

"Demography is not destiny, not by any stretch," said Jon Taylor, chair of the Political Science Department at the University Of St. Thomas.

Taylor says both parties have the opportunity to court Hispanics, and whoever does the better job -- nationally and in Texas --has a better political future.

"There's also an argument that both parties take them for granted one way or the other," Taylor said. "Democrats take them for granted because oh, they always vote with us; we have a 60/40, 70/30 split. Republicans are accused of not caring about Latinos because of immigration issues among others."

It may not be this political cycle that we see a big change. But by 2020, when the majority of Texans are Hispanic, and the new voting maps are drawn, the Latino vote will be important than ever.

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