Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hispanic support helped elect Obama

On election day, a substantial number of Hispanic voters swung their support to the Democratic Party, helping bring four states into President-elect Barack Obama's column. Obama made huge gains nationally, winning 67% of the Hispanic vote — 23 percentage points higher than President Bush's did in 2004.

Dramatic increases in Hispanic support put Obama over the top in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.

Obama carried 75% of U.S.-born Hispanics and won 35% of the Cuban vote in Florida, the highest any Democratic candidate has ever scored. In Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, analysts see a replay of California's demographic and political evolution. California hasn't voted for a GOP nominee since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Hispanics repeatedly chose New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton over Obama during their long primary battle, triggering speculation about whether Hispanics would ever support a black presidential candidate. "The election results officially debunk the myth that Latinos will not vote for blacks," said Matt Barreto, a University of Washington political scientist and Latino pollster. "That is officially laid to rest now."

Barreto says that while Hispanics were concerned about immigration, most are working class and cared most about the economy.

"They are looking for economic stability in their own personal life," he says, and responded to Obama's plans to avert foreclosures, make health insurance and education more affordable, and step up spending on job-creating infrastructure projects.

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