Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/07/2010 04:46:12 PM PST

As offices across the county switched to Republican control in Tuesday’s elections, exit polls show Latino voters were key to Democrats’ ability to win state races in California.

Twenty-two percent of the state’s voters were Latino – a 4percent increase since 2008 – and they voted for Democrats by a ratio of almost 2-to-1, according to the Pew Hispanic Center’s analysis of CNN’s exit polling.

In his successful bid for governor, Jerry Brown won 64percent of the Latino vote, but only 46percent of white voters cast their vote for the Democrat, Pew discovered. Similarly, 65percent of Latinos and 43percent of whites contributed to the re-election of Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

Pew also found that 77percent of black voters preferred Brown and 80percent chose Boxer.

Those results indicate the success of get-out-the-vote efforts and the growing voice of local Latinos, according to people involved in Inland Empire outreach.

“It was the strength of Latinos that I think really put Brown and Boxer in office,” said Joe Olague, president of the San Bernardino branch of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Olague said LULAC is a nonpartisan organization that advocates voting for candidates of any race or party that advance Latino issues.

By contrast, San Bernardino County board of education Trustee Gil Navarro has criticized the Democratic Party, saying it insufficiently registers and mobilizes Latino voters.

This election signalled that recent focus on Latino outreach has been successful, he said.

“I know there was a lot of voter registration done in the last six months,” he said.

Navarro said he plans to follow up with non-voters after results are certified, but he is proud to see so many Latinos participated.

“In my advocacy, I deal with a lot of immigrant families (who say) they’re grateful that they’re a naturalized citizen and they want to be as American as everyone else, and doing that would be participating in the voting process,” he said.

According to the Census Bureau, 37percent of Californians are Latinos.

The results show only that negative, misleading campaigns drove some Latinos to vote for candidates they thought would pander to their interests, according to Raymond Herrera, founder and president of Claremont-based We the People, California’s Crusader.

To read entire story, click here.