Will Hispanics Vote in the Primary?

With the Texas primaries coming up tomorrow, the two Democratic Presidential candidates are busier than ever courting minority voters, especially Hispanics. Political pundits and election watchers say Hispanics could determine who wins tomorrow, if they show up. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

The latest Zogby poll shows Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a statistical dead-heat among all overall Democratic voters with 46 and just under 48 percent respectively, but the percentages diverge widely with minority voters. Obama has 75 percent of black voters, while Clinton's support among Hispanics is approaching 60 percent. All the experts say Hispanics could decide the Democratic Primary. Consultant Bill Miller of Austin is one of them.  He says that's why Clinton is spending so much time and money on the Hispanic vote.

"The African-American vote, Obama's got that. He's won them over, they're with him, so there's really not much headway they can make in the African-American community.  But the Hispanic vote is large, it's favorable to the Clinton candidacy, and they recognize that every effort that they make will probably produce additional votes." 

Miller says Clinton could win with the Hispanic vote, if enough Hispanics show up, and that's a big "if."  He says historically, for a variety of reasons, it's been difficult to get Hispanics to the polls on election day.

"There is a dropoff between what they could and what they really do, and I think that we'll see if that really changes this year, and if it does then take a look at what made that change take place, but it would be a first if they did." 

Miller says with people voting early in record numbers, and a record turnout shaping up tomorrow, how many Hispanics end up voting is anybody's guess. Only hours before the election, Miller isn't willing to predict who'll win the Democratic primary.

Houston political consultant Marc Campos says it's true that Hispanics have a reputation for not voting in big numbers, but it's also true that they will turn out if they can be convinced that their votes will make a difference. He thinks that could happen this year.

"I think right now there has been so much attention given to the Hispanic vote in Texas that they are responding. Like a lot of voters they understand that it seems like the whole focus of the world's media is on Texas and in particular on the Hispanic vote and they're responding." 

Campos joins Bill Miller in saying the only thing he's willing to predict at this point is that there will be a very big voter turnout, and those who wait up for the results will be staying up very late tomorrow night.  Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.