CHAMBLEE, GA (WXIA) -- The crowds of Spanish-speaking shoppers that fill DeKalb County's Plaza Fiesta also give Georgia Democrats a measure of hope for this election. With Georgia's Hispanic population growing, Democrats hope non-white voters will help them surprise Republicans in November.
But the assumption that Hispanic voters will support Democrats may be flawed, according to an 11Alive News poll released last week.
The poll showed the race for governor between Democrat Jason Carter and Republican Nathan Deal to be neck-and-neck. But the poll showed Hispanic voters backing Gov. Deal 40 to 29 percent.
Same thing in the senate race. Hispanic voters surveyed backed Republican David Perdue 44 percent to 32 percent for Democrat Michelle Nunn,
The poll of 550 voters sampled fewer than 40 Hispanic voters, proportionate to the amount of expected Hispanic voter turnout.
"We tend to vote more for candidate than party," said Antonio Molina, chairman of the Georgia Democratic Party's Latino Caucus. But Molina concedes that GOP family and religious issues appeal to many Hispanic voters.
"We know that there are things within the Republican Party that might seem appealing to Latinos," Molina said
The numbers have meaning beyond this election. Democrats have been counting on the growth of Hispanic voters to help flip Georgia from a red state into a purple or blue state in a decade or so.
"But if Republicans can tap into just a certain amount of Latino voters -- it doesn't have to be a majority, but a certain, solid 20-30% --they can be competitive in statewide elections forever," said Dr. Kerwin Swint, chairman of the political science department at Kennesaw State University.
The Democrats would like to thwart that. The numbers suggest it won't be easy.