Disillusioned Hispanic voters a hurdle for Obama

LOS ANGELES - Armando Navarro is a political science professor at the University of California, Riverside, and a political activist.

He organized massive demonstrations in the spring of 2006 demanding a path to citizenship for immigrants. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports Navarro became one of the first high-profile Hispanic Democrats in California to back the junior senator from Illinois after hearing then-candidate Obama call for comprehensive immigration reform.

"I thought he was the man," Navarro said.

So you might be surprised to hear Navarro today: "He does not have my vote." Navarro cites the issues of war and the economy. Most of all - he feels deceived on immigration.

"Under the Obama administration, massive deportations -- 397,000 deportations as of September 2011," Navarro said. "He's moving more aggressively against us in terms of raids that the Bush administration."

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Mr. Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote nationally in 2008. Hispanics were crucial to his victory in the key states of Nevada, Colorado and Florida. Now, less than 50 percent view him favorably. Nationwide hispanic unemployment is 11.3 percent - two points higher than the national average.

"Latinos today have been the population that have been most affected by the recession," said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. He says Mr. Obama can't count on Hispanics' passionate support in 2012.

"We still haven't seen a strategy that really has moved the needle for Latinos," Vargas said.

If many Hispanics are disappointed in the president, they're disgusted by the heated Republican rhetoric on immigration. But disgust with the GOP doesn't translate into support for the president.

"I think the greatest danger for the president is that Latino voters will not be as enthusiastic in 2012 as they were in 2008," Vargas said, "and may decide to sit it out."

"We have Mexicans and Latinos in every state of this country, and all they need is to be inspired," Navarro said. "We are truly the balance of power, we are the swing vote."

To win, Mr. Obama needs to inspire the level of support he got in 2008. George W. Bush showed Republicans need just 35 to 40 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the presidency.

  • Bill Whitaker

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