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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Latino Protestants Shift Towards Democrats

Beliefnet has just done an update of its “Twelve Tribes” survey, a methodology (done through polling by the University of Akron) that slices and dices the electorate along religious (or irreligious) lines. The first Twelves Tribes survey was done at about this same time four years ago, so it provides some pretty interesting comparative data.
There’s a lot of stuff to look at and think about, but the thing that jumps off the page is a big shift in the direction of Democrats among what has long been the Great Brown Hope of the GOP: Latino Protestants.
Here’s a quick summary of this finding by Beliefnet editor Steve Waldman:

In 2004, Bush won 45% of Latinos. According to the new Twelve Tribes analysis, Obama is beating McCain by more than two-to-one — and Latino voters are becoming more numerous.
Significantly, the big shift came not from Latino Catholics but Latino Protestants many of whom are evangelical or Pentecostal and had liked Bush’s faith emphasis. But right now 33% of Latino Protestants are for McCain, 48% for Obama and 18% are undecided. By comparison, at this point in 2004 Bush had 50%, Kerry had 26% and 24% were undecided. And on election day it was 63% Bush, 37% Kerry, according to the Twelve Tribes analysis, which is based on new polling done by the University of Akron’s John Green.

Waldman goes on to say that the main factor in the shift of Latinos generally (he apparently doesn’t have issue breakouts for Protestant and Catholic Latinos) isn’t so much about immigration policy, where John McCain was obviously the best available Republican candidate, but instead because:

[T]hey’ve shifted sharply to the left on economics and foreign policy. Only 37% now say the war was justified (the national average now is 45%). Though the survey doesn’t probe this deeply, it’s notable that many Hispanics have been among the ranks of the American soldiers who have died in Iraq.
On the environment, in 2004, only 46% said they wanted stricter environmental regulation; 65% do now. They’re less likely to want religious involvement in politics (64% say religious institutions should stay out compared to 40% in 2004). In all, 62% identify as Democrats; 54% did in 2004.

In terms of the broader survey, the finding that will probably get the most attention is that the percentage of voters citing “moral issues” as their top concern is half what it was four years ago.

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