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April 19, 2014

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Report: ‘Untapped’ Hispanic electorate could swing elections in Nevada, elsewhere

If all of the unregistered Hispanics and permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship in Nevada completed the necessary steps to vote, their numbers would surpass President Barack Obama's margin of victory in the Silver State in 2008.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal research and education organization, published a report and interactive map Tuesday detailing the 10 states with the most "untapped electoral power" among Hispanics, including Nevada.

Nevada has the fewest unregistered and citizenship-eligible residents among the 10 states mentioned, but because of the state's relatively small population and the always-competitive statewide races, the population of eligible but unregistered Latinos could swing an election.

There are 101,850 Hispanics in Nevada that are eligible to vote but are not registered, according to the Center for American Progress. Additionally, as of 2010, there were 80,000 Hispanic permanent residents in Nevada that are eligible for citizenship. Together, their numbers easily top the 120,909-vote margin of victory in Nevada for Obama in 2008.

Hispanic participation in elections has been growing, but it still lags behind other ethnic groups. Hispanics constituted 50 percent of all U.S. population growth from 2000 to 2011, and despite lagging turnout the population's growth has made it a prime target of political candidates. A record 10 million Hispanics turned out to vote in 2008, which amounted to about half of the eligible voters.

For comparison, 66 percent of eligible whites and 65 percent of eligible blacks voted, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

In California there are 4,396,500 "untapped" Latino voters. In Texas the figure is 3,034,600, more than triple the margin of victory in the state for 2008 Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.

This year several organizations are on the ground in Nevada working to register Hispanics, such as Mi Familia Vota and the National Council for La Raza.

What's the way to win the vote of all of those "untapped" Hispanics? The same as the majority of all voters in 2012: Address the economy.

Polls show Hispanics put the economy and jobs at the top of their lists of the most pressing issues, closely followed by education, health care and immigration. A Pew Research Center report from July 2011 showed that the median Hispanic household wealth fell 66 percent from 2005 to 2009, outpacing non-Hispanic whites, 16 percent, and blacks, 53 percent.

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