Monday, July 21, 2008

Hispanics and the 2008 Election: A Swing Vote?


Hispanics and the 2008 Election: A Swing Vote?
Paul Taylor and Richard Fry, Pew Hispanic Center

After spending the first part of this decade loosening their historic ties
to the Democratic Party, Hispanic voters have reversed course in the past
year, a new nationwide survey of Latinos by the Pew Hispanic Center has found.

Some 57% of Hispanic registered voters now call themselves Democrats or say
they lean to the Democratic Party, while just 23% align with the Republican
Party ˆ meaning there is now a 34 percentage point gap in partisan
affiliation among Latinos. In July, 2006, the same gap was just 21
percentage points ˆ whereas back in 1999, it had been 33 percentage points.

The new survey finds that a plurality of Hispanics view the Democratic Party
rather than the Republican Party as the one that shows more concern for
Latinos and does a better job on the issue of illegal immigration (although
a substantial minority of Latinos see no difference between the parties on
these matters). Also, many more Latinos say the policies of the Bush
Administration have been harmful to Latinos than say they have been helpful.

Hispanics are the nation's largest and fastest growing minority group; at 46
million strong, they make up about 15% of the U.S. population. Their
electoral clout continues to be undercut, however, by the fact that many are
ineligible to vote, either because they are not citizens or not yet 18 years
old. In 2008, Latinos will comprise about 9% of the eligible electorate
nationwide. If past turnout trends persist, they will make up only about
6.5% of those who actually turn out to vote next November.

But despite these modest numbers, Hispanics loom as a potential "swing vote"
in next year's presidential race. That's because they are strategically
located on the 2008 Electoral College map. Hispanics constitute a sizable
share of the electorate in four of the six states that President Bush
carried by margins of five percentage points or fewer in 2004 ˆNew Mexico
(where Hispanics make up 37% of state's eligible electorate); Florida (14%);
Nevada (12%) and Colorado (12%). All four are expected to be closely
contested once again in 2008.

The analysis of Hispanic partisan affiliation and political attitudes is
based on the new 2007 National Survey of Latinos. The survey was conducted
by telephone from Oct 3 through Nov 9, 2007 among a randomly selected,
nationally representative sample of 2,003 Hispanics, of whom 843 are
registered voters. The state electoral analysis uses recent Census surveys.

In addition to the state-by-state demographic and electoral data, an
Appendix includes the most recent information on Hispanics by congressional

Other Resources

Susan Minushkin and Mark Hugo Lopez The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Democratic
Presidential Primaries. March 2008. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Pew Hispanic Center, February 2008. Hispanics in the 2008 Election Fact
Sheets. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Roberto Suro, Richard Fry and Jeffrey Passel. Hispanics and the 2004
Election: Population, Electorate and Voters, June 27, 2005. Washington, DC:
Pew Hispanic Center.

Louis DeSipio. 2006. "Latino Civic and Political Participation," in
Hispanics and the Future of America, edited by Marta Tienda and Faith
Mitchell. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation. July 2004. Pew Hispanic
Center/Kaiser Family Foundation 2004 National Survey Of Latinos: Politics
and Civic Participation. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center.

Copyright © 2008 Pew Hispanic Center

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