Four Myths About Latino Voters

Latinos could prove pivotal come November, but they're frequently mischaracterized. Four myths:

1. All they care about is immigration. In fact, immigration typically ranks far down the list of the most important issues for them—No. 5, for instance, in a 2007 Pew Hispanic Center survey (after education, health care, the economy and crime). Those who care most about the issue—recently arrived immigrants—are the least likely to be eligible to vote.

2. They want political advertisements en español. Among Latino voters, only 11 percent live in Spanish-only households; 74 percent were U.S.-born.

3. They are swing voters. Though Hispanics have sometimes migrated in large numbers to Republicans—President Bush won roughly 40 percent of their votes in 2004—the extent to which they're "up for grabs" is often exaggerated. For the most part, Latinos vote Democratic; Republicans can only hope to chip away at the margins.

4. They won't vote for African-Americans. Polls show Obama leading McCain 2-1 among Latinos. Hillary Clinton beat Obama with Hispanics mainly because her name was associated with economic growth and she had better Latino surrogates.