Democrats, who have historically dominated among Hispanic voters, already have in place sophisticated outreach operations housed both within the Democratic National Committee and President Obama's reelection campaign.

Hispanic voters could be key to which party scores electoral gains in both congressional races and the presidential race in swing states such as Florida, Colorado and Nevada. Polling shows Democrats are poised to continue to perform well among Hispanics, and harsh comments about immigration by Republican candidates have done little to help them court the community.

But Hispanics are also disproportionately affected by unemployment and ongoing economic malaise, which all signs indicate will be the No. 1 issue for voters come November. Republicans say dissatisfaction with Democratic economic policies can help them make the case to Hispanics that continued allegiance to Obama and Democrats is not in their best interest.

Case in point: Mitt Romney on Wednesday released a new television ad in Spanish set to air in Florida. The ad features Romney's Spanish-speaking son, Craig, and two Cuban-born members of Congress touting Romney's approach to jobs, national security and American values.

"The RNC knows that Mitt Romney performs dismally with Latino voters, and today they hit the panic button," said DNC spokesman Ricardo Ramirez. "Romney can’t walk back from the extreme positions he’s taken — in fact he’s on the wrong side of every issue that Hispanics care about."

Ramirez cited Romney's stances on health care, education, foreclosure interventions and immigration as examples of issues where the former Massachusetts governor would find his message resonating poorly with the Hispanic community.

- This post was updated at 5:08 p.m.