Monday, February 11, 2008

Obama and The Latino Vote.

Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton's virtual tie on supertuesday shows important facts about the Latino vote.

Latino turnout was huge, 15% of all voters nationwide. Just in California 29% of the Democratic turnout was Latino nearly double the 04 primary numbers (16%). Andres Oppenheimer points out the increases in Connecticut (7% vs. 2%), and surprisingly Missouri (5% vs. 1%).

Given this turnout and the close vote between Obama and Clinton, it is clear that the Latino vote was critical for Hilary. She carried more than 60 percent of the Latino vote in California and her home state of New York.

Obama did rather well among Latino voters 18 to 29, but was cleaned out by Hilary in the over 30 vote.

What happened?

Latinos - regardless of region and national origin were energized by the immigration issue. John McCain 50% of the Cuban vote in Florida, catapulted him over his rivals. And quite pointedly McCain enjoyed very favorable media coverage in Spanish-language media, precisely because of his stance on immigration. The phrase "All the Republican candidates except for John McCain" was a lead in many a TV or newspaper story.

Clinton and Obama were both fairly quiet on immigration - but the Democrats have a built-in advantage over Republicans on immigration - namely they aren't the Republicans. At that point it became an issue of which candidate reached out better to the voters. Commentators point out Hillary's endorsements from leading Latino leaders, key Latino members of her campaign doing media outreach, and Bill Clinton's coattails.

Hillary, through, Senator Bob Menendez among others, received extensive coverage in South Florida media - which projects nationally, since much news content comes out of Miami.

Obama failed to win endorsements. But, despite lacking the Clinton goodwill factor, he still had enough positives to project that could have helped him score points. The son of an immigrant - and a politician from a major urban center - is in a powerful position to appeal to immigrants.