Early last month the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) released a study with grim findings for my fellow Latino affairs wonks and I to mull over. Troubling trends in Latino voter registration during the 2010 midterm led WCVI to conclude the following --
Previous national projections for Latino voter growth to 15 million registered voters now appear overly ambitious given that the 2011-12 mobilization started from a 2010 baseline of about 11 million voters instead of the projected 12 million voters. That is, the Latino vote shrank by 5% nationally during 2009-10 instead of growing by 5% (the average Latino voter registration off year growth from 1991 to 2006) -a swing of 10%!
Therefore, WCVI's national Latino voter growth projections will be revised downward to a ceiling of 13 million (from our previous projection of 14-15 million) registered Latinos, and national Latino turnout is projected to be no higher than 10.5 million votes cast (from our previous projection of 11-12 million).
It is up to Latino leadership, their allies, and other "interested" forces to quickly mobilize significant resources into "problem states" to reverse this worrisome trend by hyper-mobilizing the Latino vote in 2012.
How can the Latino vote 'hyper-mobilized'? The study doesn't say. Latino advocacy organizations like NCLR and Latino voter advocacy organizations -- most-notably, VOTO LATINO -- have done a tremendous job of reaching out to Latino voters and, when necessary, guiding unregistered voters through the ugly political proclivities of state voter laws that often seem designed to discourage Latino voters from participating in the most-quintessential moment in American civic life on election day at the polls. But what more can they do? My hope is that solutions are the focus of the upcoming VOTO LATINO Power Summit in Los Angeles, and not he usual professional back rubs that too often are the leverage needed to encourage high-falootin' Latino and non-Latino participation in these sorts of events.
Whether or not Latinos actually vote is a personal decision for registered voters to make on Election Day. Whether or not Latinos register to vote is the difference between whether or not we matter at all to politicos in Washington until the next national election cycle.