Marlene Monteolivo was a Democrat for many years, then a Republican. Now she’s registered as a nonpartisan voter in Nevada who wants to support a candidate who will make the economy better.
The Colombia native, who works for a Las Vegas social services agency, says she’s leaning toward GOP challenger Mitt Romney. She likes his business sensibilities.
“You hear Latino voices saying. ‘Obama has not delivered,’ ” says David Damore, a University of Las Vegas political scientist. But that disappointment is more likely to translate into a “let’s-just-stay-at-home” attitude — as is the case with Monteolivo — instead of voting GOP, even though Romney has tried to hit home with his message in Nevada.
“I have walked in Nevada neighborhoods blighted by abandoned homes, where people wonder why Barack Obama failed them,” Romney said in a speech in Las Vegas earlier this year. “Well, Mr. President, Nevada has had enough of your kind of help.”
Tough times might be the reason why Nevada has gone from a strong Obama state in 2008 to a real battleground this time around. But it may not be enough to sway Latinos. That’s because many of them — such as Monteolivo — cannot get over a widely held perception that the Republican Party’s immigration policy boils down to a debate on how high to build the fence along the border, Damore says.
The thinking is, he says, is that maybe we should give Romney a chance to fatten our pocketbooks but we can’t take the risk with immigration.