¡Here Come 'Los Evangélicos'! (by Luis Lugo, Pew Research Center - 6.7.07)
Next week hundreds of evangelical Latino pastors and church leaders will descend on Washington, D.C. for the annual National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. Over the years, the event has steadily grown from a simple banquet to a three-day affair, running Wednesday through Friday. It includes not only the prayer breakfast but also lobbying visits to Capitol Hill, a women's leadership dinner focusing on health issues and the release of a major study on housing issues facing the Hispanic community.
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The prayer breakfast offers a vivid illustration of the growing presence and increasing political influence of Latino evangelicals, who now make up some 15% of the rapidly expanding Hispanic population in the U.S., according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center. That survey also shows that among eligible Latino voters, evangelicals are twice as likely as Latino Catholics to identify with the Republican Party (37% vs. 17%). Latino evangelicals also are far more likely than Latino Catholics to describe themselves as conservative (46% vs. 31%).
In short, if Republicans have a prayer in making deep inroads into the Hispanic community, evangelicals may well provide their most direct route.