A "Modern Family" coalition of single women, African-Americans, and progressive young voters who are passionate about hot-button social issues helped propel President Barack Obama to a second term this election. But it was the commanding Hispanic vote—Obama won 71 percent of Latino voters—that truly powered the president's successful run for re-election.
So what helped drive the Latino turnout in key swing states such as Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida? While a lot can be credited to anti-immigration stances taken by some GOP candidates in the primaries, the struggling housing market in key states also had an impact: The same swing states (Nevada, Arizona, and Florida) that turned out high Latino votes were also the hardest hit in the housing crisis. Moreover, 28 percent of Latino homeowners surveyed earlier this year were underwater, compared to only 14 percent of the general population.
That might have made a big difference when it came to looking at the differing approaches of the Obama and Romney campaigns. While the Obama administration and congressional Democrats crafted legislation and campaigned on broad refinance bills aimed at helping those same underwater borrowers, Mitt Romney took a more hands-off, market clearing approach, infamously telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal to "Let it [housing market] run its course and hit bottom."
The growing rift between Latinos and the GOP could become increasingly important in future elections, as well as in setting national policy. Going forward, it only makes sense for lawmakers to closely consider the Hispanic community's views and values, especially when it comes to homeownership.
According to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, here are some key findings that could strongly influence policy when government addresses future housing issues:
Hispanics are mobile and willing to relocate where employment is available. Hispanics alone drove the population growth in major cities such as Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Atlanta, and comprised the greatest component of population increases in San Antonio, Fort Worth, and El Paso, Texas, along with Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina.
The message is clear. Homeownership is more important and more attainable than ever for Hispanics. And the opportunity for increased homeownership among Latinos is enormous. As of 2010, the homeownership rate among the Latino community was just 47.5 percent, compared with almost 70 percent for non-Hispanics. With rising influencers such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, it's only logical that future policies will accommodate this tectonic shift in the demographics of the country.