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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama’s Surprising Hispanic Strength

Last month, we published an authoritative table-setting article about the Hispanic vote and the 2008 presidential election by R. Michael Alvarez and Jonathan Nagler, that concluded the Democratic ticket needed to hold Republican support among Hispanics at or below about 35%.
It’s good to know from a new Pew Hispanic Center survey that Barack Obama is currently leading John McCain among Hispanics by a 66%-23% margin. The widespread fear that Hillary Clinton’s Hispanic supporters might defect to McCain in significant numbers also seems to be abating:

[M]ore than three-quarters of Latinos who reported that they voted for Clinton in the primaries now say they are inclined to vote for Obama in the fall election, while just 8% say they are inclined to vote for McCain. That means that Obama is doing better among Hispanics who supported Clinton than he is among non-Hispanic white Clinton supporters, 70% of whom now say they have transferred their allegiance to Obama while 18% say they plan to vote for McCain, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press

Moreover, the pro-Obama trends among Hispanics is being strongly reinforced by a pro-Democratic shift in party preferences:

In addition to their strong support for Obama, Latino voters have moved sharply into the Democratic camp in the past two years, reversing a pro-GOP tide that had been evident among Latinos earlier in the decade. Some 65% of Latino registered voters now say they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared with just 26% who identify with or lean toward the GOP. This 39 percentage point Democratic Party identification edge is larger than it has been at any time this decade; as recently as 2006, the partisan gap was just 21 percentage points.

All these findings are obviously a snapshot rather than a portrait of Hispanic political dynamics. But they are an encouraging sign.

One comment on “Obama’s Surprising Hispanic Strength

  1. dov on

    Your report is genuinely encouraging. It leads to recognizing the political centrality of organized efforts in many states. More than any campaign in my living memory–I go back a long way working precincts for Stevenson in 1952– this organized political effort builds the recognition that the election is a beginning not an ending. In my own organizing and advocacy work I know that this is well understood in the Mexican and Central American communities. Even if the margin doesn’t stay at 66-23, McCain is not likely to be close to the 35% he needs. What’s more the turnout will be substantially heavier than in the past.
    David Cohen

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