Latino leaders said on a press call Wednesday morning that the decisive factor in President Obama's reelection was the Latino vote. Latino Decisions' election night polling indicates that 75% of Latinos voted for President Obama and 23% voted for Mitt Romney.
"For the first time in American history," said Gary Segura, professor at Stanford University and founder of Latino Decisions, "the Latino vote can be said to be decisive. If the Latino vote had been split equally, Obama would have lost the popular vote."
According to the report by Latino Decisions, Obama's share of the Latino vote would exceed the record set by Bill Clinton in the 1996 election, when he received 72% of support from Latinos.
A projected 12.2 million Latinos participated in this election, according to leaders on the call. In 2008, a record number of 9.7 million participated.
"The Latino giant is wide-awake, cranky, and it's taking names," said Eliseo Medina, a leader of the labor union SEIU. "Yesterday Latinos were the key vote in electing a president, and now we are a part of history."
"President Obama won Latino support the old-fashioned way — by supporting comprehensive immigration reform," added Medina. "Romney really screwed up on the immigration issue. He sealed his fate in the primaries."
Citing Romney's support of the Arizona immigration laws, as well as his pledge on the trail that he would veto the DREAM Act, Medina said, "We're not stupid…There was nothing Romney could say to win the Latino vote."
The data from Latino Decisions shows the vote played a role in tipping key swing states — particularly Colorado, where 87% of Latinos voted for Obama — and in tight Senate races. Their data shows 86% of Latinos in Massachusetts supporting Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown.
The 113th Congress will also have the largest number of Latinos in office — 28 House seats and three Senate seats. Winning handily in Texas Tuesday night, Republican candidate Ted Cruz becomes the third Latino senator, joining Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez.
On this issue of immigration, there needs to be "leadership from Republicans, particularly in the Senate," said Frank Sharry, executive director of the group America's Voice. "The Republicans need to sue for peace on the immigration issue. It's become a political imperative. The Republicans will either come to the table or pay a price for not doing so."