Virginia is battleground for Hispanic vote

Posted at 6:58 PM, Sep 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-12 18:58:49-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) – In the remaining days before the election, the presidential campaigns are focusing intensely on different demographics deemed crucial for winning.

One group receiving a lot of attention is the Hispanic vote.

While President Barack Obama won Hispanics by 68 percent in 2008, experts say Hispanic turnout is expected to increase by at least 20 percent in this election.

Both campaigns put Hispanic speakers in primetime during their conventions, with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro speaking in Charlotte and Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaking in Tampa.

One of the reasons for the increase in attention toward Hispanics is the fact that many are undecided like Mario Dawson.

“I am undecided,” Dawson told CBS 6.

Along with his mother – Argentina Ortega – he owns an El Salvadorian Bakery off Midlothian Turnpike in Chesterfield.

“I am leaning toward Obama from everything that I have seen on TV but I am still uncertain,” Dawson said.

And it’s that uncertainty that is encouraging Republicans to host various outreach nights to counter the traditionally Democratic group.

“You can`t group them or homonagize them as one voting block,” Michel Zajur, President and CEO of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber, told CBS 6.

Zajur stressed that voting patterns within the Hispanic community are connected strongly with what country they come from. Hispanics from Mexico and Central America tend to vote more for Democrats while Cubans tend to vote more conservatively.

“There is different prospective, I think the Latino vote is out there to be won,” Zajur added.

Argentina Ortega stresses that immigration issues remain on the minds of most Hispanics, adding however that the economy will most likely be what issue she votes on in November.

“All they want is to have a life, a nice life, because in our country where we are coming from there were too many problems,” Ortega added.