The Campaign Spot

Middle Cheese: Keep an Eye on Swing-State Latinos

Middle Cheese writes in on a topic he’s been examining a while, how Obama and Romney stack up on the Latino vote.

Conventional wisdom holds that Mitt Romney is faring so badly with Hispanic voters that he cannot possibly win.

A recent CNN/ORC poll of Hispanics nationally finds President Obama has the support of 70 percent Hispanic voters compared to 26 percent for Mitt Romney. By comparison, John McCain got 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008 and George W. Bush got 44 percent in 2004, according to exit polls.

Nationally, I think the more relevant comparison is George W. Bush, who was a two-term Governor of a border state, and got 35 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2000.

Further, national polls can be deceiving because they survey Hispanics from populous states like California and New York, who are overwhelmingly Democratic voters.

Let’s look at the polls of Hispanics in the key battleground states of Florida, Nevada, and Colorado. Now the polls are all over the place, depending on whether they surveyed registered voters or likely voters. However, comparing some recent polls to the 2008 results produces some very interesting trends:

PPP Florida Poll this week shows Romney with 47% of Hispanics and Obama with 49%.

In 2008, Obama took 57% of the vote compared to McCain’s 42%.

As we all know, a large portion — though not all — of Florida’s Hispanic population is Cuban-American, and that community tends to lean Republican more than Latinos who trace their heritage to other Latin countries. Having said that, there had been buzz in recent years that Florida’s Cuban-Americans were growing less solidly Republican, and the 2008 result might be seen as evidence of that. Either 2008 is an outlier, or Romney is winning them back, so far.

Middle Cheese continues:

WSJ/NBC/Marist Nevada Poll this week shows Romney with 36% of Hispanics and Obama with 62%.

In 2008, Obama took 76% of the vote compared to McCain’s 22%.

ARG Colorado Poll this week shows Romney with 38% of Hispanics and Obama with 53%.

In 2008, Obama took 61% of the vote compared to McCain’s 38%.

Team Romney has made some very smart adjustments in both the tone and substance of Romney’s stance on immigration, which is a gateway issue for Hispanics. For example, Romney announced that he would allow undocumented “Dreamers” who were offered a two-year deferral on deportation by Obama to stay in the country if he becomes President, and that he would seek a permanent legislative solution for these undocumented young achievers who pursue higher education or serve in the military.

By doing so, Hispanics — who have experienced sharply higher rates of joblessness under Obama than the general population — are increasingly receptive to Romney’s core message of promoting upward mobility and creating 12 million jobs through pro-growth policies.To wit, a new Latino Decisions national poll has Romney at 33 percent among Hispanics, a seven point increase from a month ago.

The bottom line: Obama is not where he was with Hispanic voters in 2008 and Romney is steadily improving on McCain’s showing, which will be critical in carrying these battleground states.

Mitt’s strong debate performance the other night will no doubt boost his numbers among independent Hispanics voters. I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Mitt Romney will do at least as well as George W. Bush did among Hispanics in 2000, and he will win a majority of Hispanics in Florida.


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