Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hispanic Vote Was The Key To Obama's Victory

If you want to simplify the analysis of the 2008 presidential election compared to the 2004 presidential election, you can explain the electoral map changes in Obama's favor by looking only at Hispanic voters. According to the Pew Research Center, Obama defeated McCain by a two-to-one margin among Hispanics. In 2004, Bush won 40% of the Hispanic vote nationally. Obama's wins in battleground states with a high Hispanic population, including Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, is explained by the shift in support from Bush in 2004 to Obama in 2008. Bush carried 54% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, while Obama carried 57% of the Hispanic vote in the Sunshine State. Additionally, in states like Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, which Obama carried by small margins, the added support from Hispanic voters turned these red states to blue this year. Obama had a 1-point margin in Indiana and North Carolina, a 4-point margin in Ohio and a 5-point margin in Virginia.

As an immigration attorney, I believe the significant, shifting allegiance among Hispanic voters from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party over the last four years can be explained by the party's hard line stance on immigration reform. Ironically, Sen. John McCain did more than anybody in Congress, save Sen. Edward Kennedy, to get meaningful immigration reform legislation through Congress, which would have granted a path to legalized status for the estimated 12 million undocumented aliens living and working in America. President Bush had pledged to sign into law the legislation pushed by McCain and Kennedy. McCain's work on this legislation was the major reason his campaign was given up for dead until his upset win in the New Hampshire primary this year. McCain's record on Hispanic issues throughout his congressional career in Arizona has been exemplary. Unfortunately, he was compelled not to talk about his record by the hardliners in his own party. McCain's inability to communicate his record to Hispanic voters in this election probably cost him any chance he had at beating Obama this year.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, I couldn't agree with you more. Ironically Bush and McCain have two of the more reasonable voices in the Republican Party on the issue of immigration reform.

The fact is the immigration system, as you know, is broken. Too many Republicans don't even want to consider fixing the immigration system so it relects reality and the need of the economy for low-skilled workers which is driving much of the immigration. They'd much rather demagogue on the subject because to do so is politically popular. Well it's not popular with Hispanics and Republicans can ill-afford to turn those folks off.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I think the Republican base is dying off of old age and being drowned out by younger voters.

Nation-wide, 18% of the electorate this year was 18-29 and they voted 2 to 1 for Obama, they made up 18% of the electorate.

65 and older made up only 16% of the electorate, and voted for McCain more heavily than Obama, but only 54% voted for McCain.

Demographically, every age group in between was around 50% for each candidate, plus or minus a percent.

So we can take from this that the youth vote is bigger than it ever was before, voted 2/3rds in Obama's favor, and counterbalanced the elderly demographic who will usually vote for any Republican with a pulse, meaning John McCain even did poorly among them.

Quite frankly, I don't buy the whole Center-Right nation argument, if anything, the country has become massively more to the left over the last 20 years.

In 1980, a Democrat wouldn't even talk about gay rights and have a snowball's chance in hell.

In 1980, the quickest political suicide for a Republican would be to have the news media find out her 17 year old daughter is unmarried and pregnant, now it just makes them "more human".

There's more, but this country is either Centrist or leans left these days.

At any rate, it wasn't JUST any demographic that gave it to Obama, because he outperformed Kerry by every benchmark, but the youth vote had much to do with it.

I saw on the news a line of young people about to vote and they said that another Republican scared them because we'd probably go to war with Iran and end up drafting people...let that sink in for a minute.