••Latinos Shape the 2008 Results

The sleeping giant sleeps no more!

The 2008 election will go down in history as the election in which Latino voters emerged as a political force.  Not that it hasn’t been a long time coming.  But our electoral presence is now undeniable and will change both regional and national politics for the foreseeable future.

Here is the round-up of some of the more notable results relating to Latinos:

Nationally, Latinos voted for Barack Obama (66%) over John McCain (31%).
This really isn’t a surprise to anyone who has been following the numbers but it seemed hard to believe for a lot of pundits just a few months ago.  The potential long-range pattern here is the most significant.  The African American vote coalesced and became a solid and predictable Democratic safeguard during the Civil Right Era.  Lesson?  A major historical experience molded them into a solid bloc.  Did the immigration crackdowns and accompanying racial hostility just do the same for Latinos?  Only time will tell…

In Florida 57% of Latinos chose Obama and about 42% McCain.
Latinos make up 14% of the total electorate of this southern State and have been, traditionally, a predictable voting bloc for Republicans.  Tonight they helped turn Florida blue.

The primarily Cuban American voter showed an almost unwavering alliance with the anti-communist stances of late 20th century Republicanism.   What changed?  Their Latino population has grown far more diverse in the last 10 years and the grandchildren of Cuban exiles seem a lot more willing to witness the end of the embargo and the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S.

On a different note, Latinos also helped pass an anti-gay marriage measure in the State, supporting it by a 64% to 36% margin.

In Colorado they picked Obama by a 73% to 27% margin.
In this formerly Republican stronghold, where Latinos are 17% of the electorate, they helped deliver one of the night’s swing surprises delivering CO to Obama.  Latinos are helping to put certain regions of this nation into political play and Colorado is a great example of the shift, but they also present a confusing terrain.  Latinos voted overwhelmingly (82%) for an anti-abortion measure that went down to defeat overall.

Latinos chose Obama in California (75%) and Texas (63%).
Latinos  are 19% of the California electorate and 20% of that in Texas.  Like the cases above, they are also growing.  While they helped give Obama his landslide in CA, they helped temper his loss in TX.  In CA they also slighty favored a ban on same-sex marriage (which, as of this posting, remains undecided).

Latinos Give Juan McCain the Frío Shoulder

A new research report issued by the Pew Hispanic Center shows Barack Obama leading over John McCain by a 66% to 23% among registered Latino voters.

That almost a 3 to 1 margin.

The report is a reminder to hesitate in believing political pundits, though you most likely don’t need that reminder. Still, if you remember, last month as the Democratic primary finally came to its long awaited close, every time you turned on the TV to the news you would see some talking head predicting Obama would struggle with the Latino vote in November, as he did during the primaries. Well, doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.

Come to think of it, I remember hearing a lot of commentators predict Hillary Clinton voters would jump ship over to McCain as well. Turns out, more than 75% of Latinos who once supported Clinton now support Obama. Only 8% have declared their support for McCain. That’s better than Obama’s numbers for whites who voted for Clinton (where 70% support him and 18% McCain)

The most important numbers in the poll are the ones showing where Latino registered voters “lean.”  The poll estimates 65% of us are leaning to the Democratic Party while only 26% are leaning to the Republicans.  This 39% point differential is the largest “than at any time in the past decade.”

Why this is important is because this shows that, in fact, the Latino electorate may be becoming an actual voting bloc.  The debacle of immigration is becoming the equivalent of the Civil Rights Movement for the African American voter.  By the time my kids are old enough to vote, the words “Latino Republicans” might sound like “Black Republicans.”  It’s not impossible, or so rare you never meet one, but you always wonder about them.

Download the report here.