ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, host:
And I'm Mary Louise Kelly.
We begin this hour with the upcoming midterm elections and a mixed message from one key voting block - Latinos. They now make up nine percent of the electorate and the fastest growing voter group. Hispanics voted 2-1 for President Obama in 2008, and were key in four swing states.
Their votes could also be critical in dozens of upcoming congressional races. New research out today says Latino voters still lean left of center. But as NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports, Democrats should not take those votes for granted.
JENNIFER LUDDEN: The good news for Democrats - a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center finds Latinos have maintained their incredibly lopsided support. Two-thirds say they favor the Democratic candidate in their local congressional race. And the job approval rating for President Obama is like a blast from the past - 65 percent in favor, just 22 percent disapprove. But if Democrats think this constituency can save them next month, not so fast.
Mr. MARK HUGO LOPEZ (Associate director, Pew Hispanic Center): We found that compared to all U.S. registered voters, Latino registered voters were less likely to say they'd given the election a lot of thought.
LUDDEN: Mark Hugo Lopez is associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center.
Mr. LOPEZ: And Latino registered voters are also less likely to say that they're absolutely certain to vote in the upcoming election.
LUDDEN: In fact, Pew finds the Hispanics most likely to vote are the minority registered as Republicans. Why the apathy for Democrats?�The Pew poll and others suggest it's connected to frustration over the�unresolved immigration debate. Lopez asked whether this administration's policies have helped or hurt Latinos.
Mr. LOPEZ: Latinos are divided. In fact, half of Latinos say there's been no effect of Barack Obama's administration's policies on the Hispanic community.
LUDDEN: A year ago, in another poll by Latino Decisions, many Hispanics said they'd understand if there was no immigration overhaul by the next election, given the nation's many problems.�But when asked again earlier this year, that patience had worn thin. Still, civic groups are once again launching an aggressive effort to get out the Latino vote.
Mr. BEN MONTERROSO (Mi Familia Vota): From Houston to Phoenix, from Yuma to Denver, we have seen the Latino community interested in the elections.
LUDDEN: Ben Monterroso heads Mi Familia Vota, or My Family Votes.�He insists new citizens and younger Hispanics, especially, are still excited to cast their ballots. And, while some may be apathetic at the lack of action on immigration, Monterroso says others may be motivated to vote when they see candidates demagogue the issue.�
Mr. MONTERROSO: More concerning to our community is those elected officials or wannabe elected officials who are using the issue of immigration to attack the entire community without distinction.
LUDDEN: Immigration aside, the Pew survey finds Hispanic voters look a lot like other Americans: their top concerns are education, jobs, and health care.�
Jennifer Ludden, NPR News, Washington.
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