A student emailed me this article in Time about predicting the influence of the Latino vote in November. It points out accurately that the idea of Republicans needing some particular share of the national vote is misleading since the national vote is irrelevant in U.S. presidential elections. I agree with this assessment:
Latinos are expected to make up about one in ten voters this year, but many of those votes, in big states like Texas, California and New York, will have no impact on the electoral college, since those states are not in play for Romney. But Latinos can have a big impact on the outcomes in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Florida, and a marginal impact in states like North Carolina and Ohio, all of which both parties will contest.
One key things missing here is the percentage of the Latino population that is eligible to vote in each state. In states with long-standing Latino communities, of course that will be much higher than places like North Carolina, where it is a relatively newly arrived constituency, has a lower proportion of eligible voters, and a much lower proportion of registered voters. But it is true that the impact will be marginal.
Nonetheless, as the race heats up I expect my phone to start ringing with robo-calls and my mailbox to fill up with fliers.