The USA is made up of various immigrant groups with different cultural identities and traditions. It has assimilated new immigrants, from the first WASP settlers, through waves of European immigration, and more recently to immigrants from Asia and Latin America. The most significant minority racial groups in the American electorate are African-Americans and Hispanics.
Hispanics are a growing group. According to the 2000 census, they formed 12% of the population, but because they are a young group and a significant proportion is not yet of voting age, their full political importance is yet to show. As Hispanics become a larger cohort within the voting age population in future decades, they will become an increasingly important racial group for the two parties to attract.
Most Hispanics are Spanish speaking and over 70% are Roman Catholic, which has led to some vote switching from the Democrats to the Republicans over issues such as abortion. The majority, however, still vote Democrat for social rather than religious reasons, and many were mobilised to vote over the divisive issue of illegal immigration in 2008, when Obama won 66% of the Hispanic vote.
To conclude, Hispanics are the largest growing minority in the USA and their vote is significant in many battleground states with high Electoral College votes. Largely Spanish speaking and Catholic, their vote has been ‘up for grabs’ in recent elections where many were energised to vote by the moral values focus of the Republicans in 2004 and the more favourable views on immigration and welfare of the Democrats in 2008. The reason why the Hispanic vote is increasingly important is due to their increasing population and their unstable, fluctuating voting patterns; as their numbers increase, both parties will target them as a key group of voters to win over.