There are more Latino registered voters in this election cycle than in 2008 -- and a study shows this could be the deciding factor in several battleground states, including those in the Southwest.
Can the Republican Party capitalize on these voters?
Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan favors slashing funding for education, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and opposes the DREAM Act -- issues important to Latinos. This could be a problem for presidential candidate Mitt Romney in several swing states, including Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona.
A Latino Decisions study shows the number of Latino voters has increased in these states-- enough that several statewide and local races could be decided by the Latino vote.
"We’ve noted a couple times in our analysis this looks like the lowest share of Latino voters in the last couple of decades actually," said Sylvia Manzano, a researcher with Latino Decisions. "This would be lower than John McCain, any of George Bush’s elections, his father as well. So, it doesn’t look good for them nationally."
Many experts agree, including Arizona State University Political Scientist Pat Kenney. He says the Romney campaign may be focusing on the Republican Party’s base.
"They must’ve made a calculation that the Latino vote is gonna go around 70 percent for the Democratic ticket," Kenney said. "And they’re saying 'we have to find a way to 50 percent of the [overall] vote without that.'"
Manzano says while Republicans may trail in the polls with Latino voters, the GOP will be showcasing Latino elected leaders at its convention in Tampa, in an effort to highlight the party’s diversity.