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August 27, 2008

Obama builds large lead among Latinos in key Southwest states, McCain leads among Latinos in Florida


Latino voters favor Barack Obama over John McCain by a 3-1 margin in the key battleground states of New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, according a new poll released today by Latino Decisions and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. In Florida, the poll showed that Latino voters favor McCain by a slim margin.

“Despite Hillary Clinton’s success among Latinos in the primary, this new poll reveals that Obama is doing very well among Latino voters in battleground states. Now the most important question is what the Latino voter turnout will be,” said University of Washington political scientist Matt Barreto, an expert in Latino voting trends who was the poll’s lead researcher.

The survey found that in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, 68 percent of Latinos planned to vote for Obama, compared to 22 percent for McCain, while 10 percent were undecided.

Latino Decisions, a collaboration between Barreto, Pacific Market Research and Stanford University political scientist Gary Segura, conducted the  poll by telephone Aug. 18-24. It reached 750 registered Latino voters in the four states. Latino Decisions will release another poll taken in the same four states in mid-September following the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

In the three Southwest states, Obama’s lead among Latinos was consistent. In New Mexico, Obama was favored over McCain 70 to 21 percent; in Colorado, Obama was favored 69 to 24 percent; and in Nevada, Obama was favored 68 to 22 percent. In all three Southwest states, a majority of Latinos are of Mexican descent and have traditionally voted Democratic.

In Florida, where Cuban-Americans constitute a significant portion of the Latino electorate, McCain led Obama 48 to 45 percent. In 2004, President Bush won 56 percent of the Florida Latino vote compared to 44 percent for John Kerry.

In 2008, the Latino vote is expected to increase to 9 million, or roughly 8 percent of voters. By comparison, 7.6 million Latinos voted in 2004 and 5.9 million in 2000.

Voters were identified using the complete voter registration databases for each state, which was then merged with a Spanish-surname list from the U.S. census. All respondents were verified as Latino and registered voters. Pacific Market Research in Renton, Wash. conducted the survey. It was available in English and Spanish, according to preference of the respondent.

The entire survey carries a margin of error of 4 percentage points; however, each state has a smaller sample size and carries a margin of error of about 7 percentage points.

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For more information, go to http://www.latinodecisions.com. Barreto may be contacted at (206) 616-3584 or mbarreto@washington.edu. Segura is at segura@stanford.edu. Contact the National Association of Latino Elected Officials at: (213) 747-7606.