About That Crumbling 2008 Coalition of Support for Obama — Hispanics

I made a number of blog posts on demographics and the Hispanic vote when this blog began a few months ago.  My main thrust was a) The Obama campaign misrepresents which demographics’ vote won them the 2008 election, and 2) Hispanics enthusiasm is way down from 2008 so even if they support Obama by greater numbers, that support may not show up on election day.

The first point remains as true as ever, but it is the second point that gets curiouser by the day. The brunt of my time is spent blogging Battleground polls but occasionally I’ll delve into a national poll or two. The national polls regularly reveal the trend the Obama campaign had been gunning for — Hispanics prefer Obama by a greater margin nationally than they did in 2008.  This is good news for Obama and his “coalition of the ascendent” argument for why he will win re-election. State polls often don’t provide demographic preferences so I haven’t spent time combing through the numbers since they’re rarely there to begin win.  But one of Jim Geraghty’s confidential sources has looked at these numbers and points out many intriguing surprises:

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. 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.


  • 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%.


  • 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%.

Why the improvement?

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

  • 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
  • he would seek a permanent legislative solution for these undocumented young achievers who pursue higher education or serve in the military

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

  • 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 (35% of the vote nationally), and he will win a majority of Hispanics in Florida.


  1. Eric
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink | Reply

    The New Mexico PPP poll also had Obama winning hispanics 58-36. New Mexico hispanics are almost entirely Mexican and Romney is getting close to 40% of them. It’s numbers like these that give Romney a really good chance of winning Nevada and Colorado.

    • jeff
      Posted October 6, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink | Reply

      He is going to win NV and CO. BO has yet to break 50 in the polls even before the debate debacle. PLUS the economy has been especially hard on hispanics.

  2. Posted October 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    “Rapido y Furioso” may be trouble for Equipo 0.

  3. damien
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

    maybe keith could tell us if obama gets under 40 among whites as seems likely…then what is obama’s point of no return among hispanics…??…I would think if romney gets 35 then he is sitting in high cotton esp if the turnout is down

    • Posted October 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’ll take a stab with some caveats up front. We will assume the winner of the popular vote is the winner of the election. We’ll next assume demographic make-up is only slightly different than 2008 which was Whites: 74%, Blacks 12%, Hispanics 9%, Asian 2%, Other 3%. I’m going to add in the Whites who stayed home in 2008 and make Whites 75% of the turnout but only change the “Other” category solely for simplicity sake. No adjustments for reduced enthusiasm or turnout among Blacks or Hispanics. We must stipulate here, this is generous to Obama in a couple of ways. First the non-White percentages were record figures so between decreased enthusiasm and potential vote switchers, we are giving Obama some generous assumptions. And to be clear, the Obama campaign at least claims they can raise those percentages. Every unbiased bone in my body refuses to believe that is possible if for no other reason the expected return of the White voter. But for discussion purposes we will grant him these levels.

      This makes the projected demographic turnout Whites: 75%, Blacks 12%, Hispanics 9%, Asian 2%, Other 2%.

      We’re looking for 50% of the vote so let’s look at Whites first:
      If use use 40% support from the White vote as the control (since this is the Obama campaigns lower bound of acceptable vote %), we see Obama gets 30% (40% of the 75% demographic = 30% of the overall vote) of the 50% he needs to win the popular vote.

      I will model 95% support among Blacks which is another 11.4% towards 50 (95% of the 12% demo = 11.4%)

      Asians and Other I roll into one group:
      I will assume at 65% support and that gets another 2.6% towards 50 (65% of the 4% demo = 2.6%)

      Add all that up and you have Barack Obama 44% of the popular vote before we get to Hispanics.

      With Hispanics at 9% of the turnout Obama’s point of no return is a 55% support level (or 45% for Romney). That is a very low threshold since his support is typically at 65 or 70% in the polls.

      This is why Team Obama has been so confident the entire election cycle. Demography is destiny and they think they have demography on their side.

      But let’s play with just one number: Obama’s support with White voters.

      Since I honestly believe his support among White voters is no higher than 38% and more likely 1-2% below that, I’ll keep everything else the same and model the above scenario with 38% support.

      At 38% White support, Obama’s popular vote total before Hispanics drops to 42.5. From here Obama would need an incredible 83% of the Hispanic vote to get to 50% in the popular vote. This is why I focused so much on the lack of support among White votes as the key missing story in this election cycle. If Obama is at 38% with the White vote, the race is very likely over. But luck for Team Obama, the polls over-sampling Democrats hide this decline.

      Once Obama drops 40% in the White vote his margin for error is completely gone. And considering most factor in ~95% of support among African-Americans Obama has few places left to cobble together votes. Even then the groups are disparate and difficult to achieve any critical a critical mass to sway election results.

      Hope this helps. Now off to college football …

      • Posted October 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

        Great Analysis Keith. The key is the white vote being 75% of the vote or more. Democrats will tell you as low as 72% or even 70% I’ve read.

  4. Mike
    Posted October 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Wow Great Math work Keith. Like I said before, if we take our family and friends that are voting for Romney to the voting place, we should have not problem electing Mitt!!

One Trackback

  1. […] trend Republican, 2) Obama only won this Florida demo 57 to 42 in 2008, and 3) pretty smart people saw this coming.  All-in-all great news for Team Romney in this Registered Voters poll heading into […]

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