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The Hispanic Vote in the 2008 Election

by Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director, Pew Hispanic Center

Hispanics voted for Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden over Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin by a margin of more than two-to-one in the 2008 presidential election, 66% versus 32%, according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of exit polls from Edison Media Research as published by CNN.1 The Center’s analysis also finds that 8% of the electorate was Latino, as indicated by the national exit poll. This is unchanged from 2004.

Nationally, all Latino demographic sub-groups voted for Obama by heavy margins. According to the national exit poll, 64% of Hispanic males and 69% of Hispanic females supported Obama. Latino youth, just as all youth nationwide, supported Obama over McCain by a lopsided margin – 76% versus 19%.
Obama carried the Latino vote by sizeable margins in all states with large Latino populations. His biggest breakthrough came in Florida, where he won 57% of the Latino vote in a state where Latinos have historically supported Republican presidential candidates (President Bush carried 56% of the Latino vote in Florida in 2004). Obama’s margins were much larger in other states with big Latino populations. He carried 78% of the Latino vote in New Jersey, 76% in Nevada, 74% in California, and 73% in Colorado.

In an election year when voter participation rose across the board, Latinos maintained their share of the national vote, at 8%, according to the national exit poll. In several states, however, Latinos represented a larger share of voters this year than in 2004. The largest increases in the share of voters who are Hispanic occurred in the states of Colorado (9 percentage points higher), New Mexico (9 points higher), and Nevada (5 points higher), all three battleground states in this year’s election.


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