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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Hispanic Vote in Context

A New York Times analysis of exit polls finds that President Obama did not need an extraordinarily high percentage of the Hispanic vote to win reelection.  He would have won Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire without any Hispanic votes at all.  He would have carried Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio with less than a majority of Hispanics.  These states would have brought him to 285 electoral votes.

On the other hand, Romney might have carried these states with a larger share (though less than a majority) of the Hispanic vote:  New Mexico, Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
Which brings us to our second question: Would a revamping of the Republicans’ immigration policy be sufficient to cause Hispanics to shift to the Republican Party?
The exit poll results suggest that the Republicans’ assertion that Hispanics are socially conservative is not necessarily true.

Two-thirds of Hispanic voters said that abortion should be legal in most or all cases, compared with slightly more than half of white voters, according to exit poll results. Hispanics were also more liberal when it came to same-sex marriage, with 59 percent saying it should be legal in their state, compared with 51 percent of blacks and 47 percent of white voters.
Exit poll results also indicate that Hispanics are not necessarily racing to adopt the Republican platform of smaller government. Nearly 6 in 10 Hispanics said Mr. Obama’s health care law should be expanded or left as is, compared to about a third of white voters. And 57 percent of Hispanics said that government should be doing more to solve the problems of individuals, compared to 36 percent of whites. Hispanics, like the rest of the electorate, were also in favor of raising income taxes in order to reduce the federal deficit.
These observations are consistent with an April poll by the Pew Hispanic Center:
Much has been made about the socially conservative views of Hispanics. This is true on some specific issues (such as abortion), yet results from the survey suggest that Hispanics are no more or less likely than the general public to describe their political views as conservative. Some 32% of Hispanics and 34% of all U.S. adults say their political views are “very conservative” or “conservative.”
However, Latinos are more likely than the general public to describe their views as liberal. Overall, 30% of Latino adults say this, while just 21% of all U.S. adults say the same.5
When it comes to the size of government, Hispanics are more likely than the general public to say they would rather have a bigger government providing more services than a smaller government with fewer services. Some 75% of Hispanics say this, while 19% say they would rather have a smaller government with fewer services. By contrast, just 41% of the general U.S. public say they want a bigger government, while nearly half (48%) say they want a smaller government.