By Elise Foley, Huffington Post Latino Voices

WASHINGTON — Hispanic vote strategists from both parties agreed on Tuesday that the Latino vote could have a major impact even in unexpected place: Ohio, increasingly considered the key state to an electoral victory.

Still, if Latinos want to have a bigger influence in the state, it would help if there were more of them there, Republican strategist Ana Navarro said at a National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials event.

“If we want immigration done, some of us are going to have to bite the bullet and move to Ohio,” the Florida resident, who supports immigration reform, said to laughs from the crowd. “Get big winter coats and just make the sacrifice for the cause.”

NALEO released a report on Tuesday detailing its predictions for the Latino vote and Latino representation in politics, exactly two weeks before the 2012 elections take place. Its executive director, Arturo Vargas, told reporters they expect a record Latino turnout of 12.2 million nationwide, and an increase in Latinos in Congress.

In Ohio, Latinos make up only 3.2 percent of the population. But they still could influence the results, Vargas said.

“Although Ohio may not be a Latino-rich state, a state with two, three percent of the electorate that’s Latino could, in fact, make a difference in a state that’s evenly divided,” he said.

States with larger Latino populations will also prove important, Vargas pointed out, specifically Florida, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

No one at the event denied President Barack Obama is winning with Latinos, and that Democratic candidates are also leading among Latinos in general. That doesn’t mean Democrats can rest on their laurels, however — and neither they nor Republicans are doing so. The other panelist, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, said she thinks Obama may be able to take Florida, where both he and GOP nominee Mitt Romney have put in significant resources to win the Latino vote.

“In Florida specifically, if President Obama…


This article was first published in Huffington Post Latino Voices.

[Photo by jasleen_kaur]

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