December 22, 2010 | Yahoo! News | Original Article

Population Shift Highlights Hispanic Vote in 2012 Election

If Democrats are going to make any headway in the 2012 election, new U.S. Census figures may have a clue as to which area of the electorate needs the most attention. States that gained seats in the House of Representatives include Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. States which will lose representation are mainly from the north and northeast such as New York, Ohio, Massachusetts and Illinois.

The Census shows a marked shift in population as elderly move to warmer climates and immigrants from Mexico settle into border states. The political picture has gotten murkier for Democrats in traditional Republican powerhouses.

Why does a presidential election matter when it comes to gaining and losing seats in the House? The Electoral College bases its numbers on the representatives and senators from each state. Florida's 25 electoral votes that were so vital to George W. Bush in 2000 just increased by two. Texas has four more electoral votes for a total of 36.

States that lost seats in the House didn't do so because they had population declines -- only Michigan had fewer people due to horrible unemployment rates. The only reason some states lost votes was because their populations didn't grow as fast as other areas. New York's population was up 2.1 percent which is a modest gain. But compared to Arizona's 24.6 percent gain it's a paltry sum.

How can Barack Obama win a 2012 presidential election in states which just had gains for the Republicans? Hispanic voters may be the answer.

The DREAM Act was recently defeated in the Senate by a vote of 55-41 when enough Republicans wouldn't vote for it. The bill would have allowed hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant youths an easier path to legal status if they enrolled in school or joined the military. Those hundreds of thousands of kids are not only taxpayers but voters as well.

Hispanic voters are slowly becoming more and more Republican as Pew Research has discovered. In the 2006 midterm elections, 69 percent of Latino voters went for Democrats. In 2010, 60 percent of Latinos voted for Democrats.

The reason may be in part some Hispanic candidates are running on Republican tickets, such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Mexico's Gov. Susana Martinez. As Hispanics become more politically active they aren't joining the ranks of Democrats, a party previously favored more and more by Latino voters.

What's causing this downturn for the Democrats? Perhaps it's the economy -- empty pocketbooks produce angry voters. Another reason may be the Republican candidates are getting a larger percentage of whites to vote for them as suggested by the Pew polls.

Perhaps Barack Obama may consider having an Hispanic running mate in 2012. Bill Richardson, the outgoing Democratic governor of New Mexico, would be an ideal choice to try to capture the attention of Hispanic voters in Florida, Texas and Arizona.

Statistics don't lie and there will be a lot of census numbers to crunch. As the immigrant and Hispanic population grows in the United States it will be increasingly important to get the attention of those voters by the time the 2012 election is upon us.