For the first time in almost 40 years, the number of Hispanic registered voters has plummeted—both nationally, by 5% since 2008, and in important swing states. In New Mexico, numbers have fallen 28%; in Florida it's 10%. Meanwhile, the number of black registered voters has dropped 7% nationally—all ahead of an election in which minority voters could turn the tide, the Washington Post reports. There's only one explanation, says the head of a Latino policy group: the poor economy.
"Massive job loss and home mortgage foreclosures ... disproportionately affected minorities," he notes. And "when you move, you lose your registration." That's something many people don't realize. On top of that, new voter registration rules, such as those requiring state-issued ID to vote, are making things more complicated. Both parties are focusing on ensuring their voters are registered; indeed, the Obama campaign is pushing registration much earlier than is usual in the election cycle. "They have five months to get the electorate looking the way they want," says a Democratic strategist. (Read more Obama 2012 stories.)