Latino Votes Could Swing the Democratic Primary, and the Candidates Know It

"What's exciting is that by March 17 of next year, 70% of all eligible Latinos will have been able to cast a vote," said Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino. "That's unprecedented"

For the first time, Latino elected officials and voters are getting a real full-court press from Democratic contenders during the early stages of the primary process. The reason for the shift is simple: this time around, they could play a much more prominent role in picking the nominee, NBC News reports

Depending on how the race unfolds, Latinos might even end up being the key to the contest. 

That's a function mostly of heavily Hispanic states, including California and Texas, moving up on the primary calendar at the same time that the chances for a protracted, delegate-by-delegate fight among several candidates appear to be more likely than ever. The possibility of African American voters splitting among several candidates for the first time in several presidential primary cycles also raises the stakes for candidates in trying to get an edge with Latino voters.

Together, California and Texas, where Hispanics account for nearly 40% of the overall population, account for more than 15% of the elected delegates to next summer's Democratic convention. Both states wrap up voting next year on March 3 — Super Tuesday — which is the same day that several southern states with heavily African American Democratic electorates and a smattering of other states vote.

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