Soccer moms were the go-to gals in the 1996 Presidential election. Eight years later George W. Bush again looked to the ladies, zeroing in on security moms. In the last presidential election a hockey mom herself was put at the top of the ticket. And leading up to the 2012 election Wal-Mart moms are the political date of choice.
The different “moms” of the last couple of elections have changed names, but they remain generally similar in terms of demographic characteristics – white, middle class, and suburban. These moms vote and they are moved by tangible day-to-day concerns related to the well-being of their family. Campaigns are smart to target these women, but would be unwise to do so to the exclusion of the growing population of mamás—Latina moms.
Latinas, like white, black, and Asian women have out-voted their male counterparts for 30 years.
In the 2008 election 70.4 million women voted, close to 10 million more women than men. In that same election 34.3% of eligible Latinas voted while only 29.1% of Latino men did. This pattern will continue into the 2012 election.
At the same time that this differential will persist, the raw number of Latinas (and Latinos) voting will climb as a result of the rapid population growth within the Latino community that has grown by two million new eligible Latino voters.
Mamás will be a particularly important electorate for President Obama. While women across the board approve of the President at higher rates than men, the President’s approval is strongest among Latinas. In the November 2011 Univision-Latino Decisions poll 31% of registered Latinas strongly approved of the President compared to 27% of registered non-Latinas. This differential widened when the President was paired up against Mitt Romney. In this hypothetical match-up 47% of non-Latinas stated they were most likely vote for President Obama and among Latinas that figure shot up to 69%.
While as a group Latinos continue to support President Obama at higher rates than whites, Latinas approve of the President more than their male counterparts. In December 2011 an impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll asked registered Latinos how certain they were in their vote for President Obama or a Republican challenger. Fifty-four percent of the respondents stated that they were certain to vote for the President. However, the level of support was not equal among Latino men and women, with 56% of Latinas stating their certainty of support and 51% of Latino men doing the same. In a follow up question that pitted the President against Mitt Romney, Latinas again indicated that they were more likely to vote for President Obama.
Moms inside and outside of the political arena are a force to be reckoned with, Latina moms not being the exception. As the Latino population continues to grow the force of mamás will only increase. If they are courted appropriately Latina moms will prove to be a lifeline to the President’s re-election bid. However, Latinas, like Latinos in general are an electorate that will cross party lines if a candidate resonates with them. Moving beyond the 2012 election, Republicans and Democrats alike will need to seek to make mamá happy.
Victoria DeFrancesco Soto