Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Politics > What was learned from the 2008 Latino vote

What was learned from the 2008 Latino vote

LatinaLista — It’s only been hours since Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency but there is already speculation among political pundits, and Latinos ourselves, as to how much the Latino vote actually helped Obama win.

What we know is that according to the Edison/Mitofsky Exit Poll 66 percent of Latino voters voted for the Obama/Biden ticket. And Angelo Falcon, president and founder of the National Institute for Latino Policy, seems to think that Latinos did impact the election.

However, since the Electoral College is based on the vote in each state and most are winner-take-all systems, the role of the Latino vote in key states appears to have been important. From the early exit polls, states where the non-Latino vote went for McCain and in which it appears that the Latino vote for Obama shifted the overall vote in favor of Obama were Florida, Colorado and New Mexico. These three states gave Obama 41 electoral votes of the 338 he had won as of this writing. More dicey are Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia. In this sense, it appears that Latinos did not play the role of a “swing vote” in this election.

But what does this really mean for the future?
Does it mean that the Democratic Party is falling back into the good graces of the Latino electorate?
Does it mean that the Republican Party will be bleeding even more Latino votes in the future?
No, on both counts.

While the Latino electorate did overwhelmingly vote for Obama, it was because he was Obama.
It’s been recorded all along that when it comes to Latino voting behavior that (collectively) we are not loyal to any particular party — it’s always been about the candidate.
It’s for that reason that many Latinos suffer no guilt trip in switching political parties in the voting booth.
So, it’s pretty easy to see that if it hadn’t been for Obama on the ticket, the point spread between him and McCain among Latino voters might have been a lot closer.
Yet, Obama’s campaign did a lot of things right when approaching Latino voters that the McCain campaign did not do. The fundamental difference was Obama changed outreach strategies whereas McCain stayed the same.
Does this mean the Republicans have lost the Latino vote forever?
Not at all, but more than ever it has underscored that elections are not about political parties but the candidate and how he/she includes and listens to Latino voters.
Now, with Obama’s win, it just raised the bar for Latino voters in knowing what we want from a Latino politician running for higher office.

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  • Irma
    November 5, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    Latinos had 2 choices. Go with the old guy who has sold out on the immigration issue. Go with the new guy
    that promises a lot – but has no history of delivering anything. The Latino vote took a chance – now Obama will have to deliver or lose the Latino vote.
    But here is a question, Of registered
    Latinos, how many actually voted?
    If less than half of registered Latinos actually voted then I doubt that Democrats can rely on them in the future.

  • Texano78704
    November 6, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Actually, a better question would be — did a greater percentage of eligible Latino voters participate in the election this time than last time?
    Latinos vote Democratic in numbers greater than 60%. As the Latino population continues to grow, so will their influence on the electorate. The most profound change will be here in Texas, of course. Once Texas moves to a solid blue state, you can forget about ever seeing a Republican president again.

  • Sandra
    November 7, 2008 at 8:59 am

    So IOW, our democracy will cease to exist and we become a one-party country like Communists?? OR the Republican Party gives Latinos and other minorities everything their little hearts desire?

  • Irma
    November 7, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    My question was the same as yours, you framed it better. Personally I think
    Latinos should move toward being Independent voters and away from allegiance to any poltical party.
    That way , our needs will never be ignored.

  • Sandra
    November 8, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I fail to see what needs Latinos have that are any different than any other ethnic group in this country. We all put our pants on the same way, don’t we? We are all Americans and should stop thinking along tribal/ethnic lines. That is what is dividing this country. I think JFK put it best “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

  • Texano78704
    November 9, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    “…our democracy will cease to exist and we become a one-party country like Communists??”
    Because only “communists” have ever maintained a single party rule over a country. Yeah, right…
    What did people in this country have to say about Tom Delay’s efforts to establish a “permanent Republican majority?” I seriously doubt that the word “communism” was ever linked to any discussions on the topic. Truthfully, it sounds like you need a little cheese with that whine.
    While you are asking, you should direct your question to New England specifically. I understand that Republicans from New England are virtually unknown in Congress.
    Perhaps now, Republicans will give some serious thought to campaign finance reform, true reform that lowers the barrier for all political parties, not just the GOP and the Democratic Party.

  • Katherine
    December 9, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    how is it that latinos are not loyal to the party? they have consistently voted for the democratic candidate. there is also a 39 percentage point partisan gap between latinos that identify themselves as dems and those that identify themselves as republicans (adv. Democrat). they voted for Gore, Kerry, and Obama. where’s the surprise? Obama’s not special, he’s just a Democrat.

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