More important, as pointed out by Tom Curry, national affairs writer with MSNBC, "The potential clout of Latino voters has become as familiar a story line as the gender gap. But what might make 2012 different is the edge Latinos could give President Barack Obama and the Democrats in battleground states which aren't thought of as immigration portals or left-leaning strongholds."
Curry notes that the 2010 Census revealed that in the past decade the adult Latino population has nearly doubled in Nevada, Virginia, and North Carolina. "Also, it's increased by 60 percent or more in two Midwestern battleground states, Indiana and Ohio," he says, adding:
"Obama won all five of those states in 2008 -- two of them by very narrow margins -- and they are likely to be decisive in next year's balloting."
"What the Census figures suggest is that the road to White House in 2012 may well go through the Hispanic community" said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, an advocacy group that favors allowing illegal immigrants to work toward U.S. citizenship," Curry says..
In Nevada, for example, Latinos were about 11 percent of registered voters in 2008, according to the Census's Current Population Survey. About 90 percent of those registered actually voted, and according to exit polls, 76 percent of them cast ballots for Obama.
Likewise in Colorado, where Latinos comprised 9 percent of registered voters, with 87 percent of those individuals voting on Election Day. Obama won about three out of five Colorado Latino voters. .Nevada and Colorado were among the nine states that went for George W. Bush in 2004 but for Obama in 2008.
Based on 2008 exit poll data, Curry concludes, "if Latino voters were subtracted from the total, Obama would have lost two of the states that he won: New Mexico and Indiana. Even without those two states, he would still have won far more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, but those voters helped create a larger margin."
No election is ever a slam-dunk. Voting day is months away, and -- overnight -- something could happen that could change the entire electoral calculus for November.
But even with that huge caveat, it's difficult to see how the Republican Party -- at least the one we used to know -- which has so many really smart and well-informed members, could have ended up with three substandard candidates and a seemingly blissful ignorance of the societal factors that are likely to seal their fate.