By Dave Schechter, CNN Senior National Editor
Editor’s note: As President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney court the Latino vote, CNN takes an in-depth look at this complex and diverse community, what matters most to Latino voters, and how their vote will influence the November elections.
Washington (CNN) – The first Latino president of the United States already has been born.
Henry Cisneros, the former San Antonio mayor who was secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration, made the suggestion three years ago in an interview with the Spanish-language news service EFE.
“I don’t know if he or she’s in elementary school or in law school or is already elected … to public office, but I believe that that person is already alive, and we’re 20 years or less away from having a Latino or Latina president,” said Cisneros, whose own path to higher office may have been derailed by personal scandal and who today is executive chairman of CityView, an urban development investment firm.
When the day comes that Cisneros predicted, the man or woman behind the resolute desk in the Oval Office will represent an ever-increasing segment of the population. Latinos (or Hispanics, the official government term) made up 15.5% of the U.S. population in 2010, but by 2050 they’re projected to approach 25% of the population.
The American, the online magazine of the American Enterprise Institute, calls the Hispanic electorate a “sleeping giant” yet to wake.
Whether or not Latinos’ percentage in the electorate has kept pace with their growth in the population – and the data indicates that at present it has not – it may one day be enough to sway elections from the statehouse to the White House and stops in between.