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Big and growing bigger: Latino vote is a prize in US politics

Once, Americans of Hispanic heritage were counted on to vote Democratic. Increasingly, however, both major political parties have found the Latino vote in play and vital to their electoral prospects. In 2004, President Bush took about 40 percent of it in winning reelection, the most ever for a Republican candidate. But this past Nov. 7, 69 percent of Latino voters helped to swing control of Congress back to the Democrats. Latinos also are increasingly active as candidates for office. Currently, three hold US Senate seats, 27 serve in the House, and one is a governor (in New Mexico). Latinos also occupy the mayors' offices of major cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, and Hartford, Conn. The states with the highest percentages of Latino voters:

1. New Mexico 37.6%
2. Texas 24.6%
3. California 22.5%
4. Florida 13.3%
5. Nevada 12.5%
6. Colorado 12.4%
7. New York 11.4%
8. New Jersey 10.2%
9. Illinois 8.0%
10. Connecticut 7.7%

– Pew Hispanic Center/US Census Bureau

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