I just got off a media conference call with Obama Campaign National Director of Latino Vote Temo Figueroa, as well as members of the Washington Latino Vote Project and the newly announced Latinos for Obama Steering Committee, where we were promised an unprecedented Latino outreach program in Washington state between now and the election.
“This election will be determined by the Latino vote,” Figueroa told the participants, predicting that a handful of swing states will be decided by a few thousand votes. If those states are New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona, I’m guessing Figueroa is exactly right, potentially providing Obama a mountain state swing that could rewrite the electoral map.
As for Washington state, I’m guessing we’re not quite as big a priority, even with the recent SurveyUSA poll showing the presidential race here narrowing to within four points… which is shame because a strong Latino turnout would benefit Democrats up and down the ticket. So far the Obama campaign has been absent from our airwaves, and I haven’t heard any hint of a TV buy, Latino or otherwise, hitting WA markets anytime soon.
That said, the state Dems’ Latino outreach program is “unprecedented,” consisting of a statewide director, four paid field operatives, plus a Latinos for Obama committee populated with an impressive array of elected officials and other civic leaders.
According to Figueroa, Latinos comprise about 4.1 percent of Washington’s eligible voters (and growing), but as many as 102,000 of these eligible Latinos remain unregistered. If the Dems can leverage the Obama campaign to dramatically increase both registration and turnout, it won’t just cushion the margin at the top of the ticket and generate longer coattails further down, it could result in a substantial electoral shift for years to come, especially in areas of the state that haven’t been kind to Democrats in recent elections.