Tuesday, January 17, 2012

POLITICAL ANALYSIS: The Hispanic vote and the 12 swing states

Politico says “deep voter dissatisfaction with the economy” is a real threat to President Obama and congressional incumbents in twelve swing states, according to a new Gallup poll.  If you aren’t sure what those dozen states are here is a lineup: Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania.  Gallup did their survey in October 2011. 

In general, the poll says 60 percent of the residents in those states don’t think they are any better off than they were in 2008, compared to 37 percent who think they are.  Measured with non-swing states, 54 percent of respondents said they weren’t better off, while 44 percent said they were better off.  I decided to take the 12 states and evaluate them in relation to their Hispanic population to see if the President can count on a majority of this vote in 2012.

The swing state with the most electoral votes is Florida counting 29, followed by Pennsylvania with 20, Ohio 18, Michigan 16, No. Carolina 15, Virginia 13, Wisconsin 10, Colorado 9, Nevada and Iowa with 6 each, New Mexico with 5 and New Hampshire with 4.  This represents a total of 151 electoral votes; 270 are needed to win.  Eight of these states have had increases in their Latino population of over 50 percent since 2002.

Of those with electoral votes of 10 or above, Hispanics have representative percentages in their states’ populations as follows: Florida 22.5%; Penn. 5,7%; Ohio 3.1%; Michigan 4.4%; No. Carolina 8.4%; Virginia 7.9%; and Wisconsin 5.7%.  But add to that smaller electoral number states like Colorado 20.7% Latino; Nevada 26.5 %; and New Mexico 46.3%, and the question is just how much impact can the Hispanic vote have?

2008 vote

Obama won an astounding 359 electoral votes in 2008 taking all the 2012 swing states.  He also walked away with 133 votes from non-swing states like Washington, Oregon, California, Minnesota, Illinois and New York.  Adding this to the 151 swing state votes and you have 284 electoral votes, enough to win the election.  The increase in the Latino population alone could be a factor in delivering the swing states in 2012. 

The question, of course, is whether Barack Obama can convince Hispanics in the swing states he’s the one, and if the economy continues to improve and deliver other states plus the additional five above.

There were 6,646,000 Latino voters in 2010, which amounted to 31.2 percent of eligible voters.  84.2 percent of those had some college and 79.4 percent had incomes of over $50,000.  In one study, the Democrats have an advantage with Hispanics with higher educational attainment, as well as those with longer tenure in the country.  I couldn’t find duration figures on legal Latinos in the U.S. but of the unauthorized 10.2 million here, nearly two-thirds have lived here for at least 10 years suggesting many citizens could be here even longer.

Two GOP states, Arizona and Texas, have a combined 49 electoral votes and could be up for grabs in November.  The Arizona Hispanic population is 29.6 percent, Texas 37.6 percent, both significant enough to at least turn the states purple and seriously challenge Republicans.  No one knows what the impact of the Latino vote will be this November, but it does look as if with the surge in population plus increased voter turnout, Democrats could be riding a wave.

2012 Electoral votes
 As you can see from the above, the numbers are there.  And if the GOP continues its rhetoric against the Hispanic community which doesn’t seem to be letting up, the Dems are even more of a sure bet for this vote.  But since the immigration issue is consistently ranked second with Latinos, behind the economy, but ahead of jobs, health care education and taxes, President Obama still has a lot of work to do.

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