Introduction: This report examines the impact of Latino voters on the 2008 presidential election at both the national and state levels.
Methods: All data in this report were derived from the exit polls from Edison Media Research as published by CNN and Pew Hispanic Center’s analysis of the exit polls from Edison Media Research as published by CNN.
Results: Nationwide, Latinos voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama over John McCain. Obama received 67% of the Latino vote, compared to 31% for McCain. Obama also received the majority of votes from other minority groups. Latinos increased their share of the national vote from the 2004 election from 8% to 9% of all voters. Although this increase was marginal, there were important differences in states with large Latino populations. In California, the Latino share of the state vote actually declined from 21% in 2004 to 18% in 2008. Florida, New Jersey and Illinois also experienced slight declines in the percentage of voters who were Latinos. However, in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada, three of the major battleground states, Latinos increased their share of all voters between 2004 and 2008: from 32% to 41% in New Mexico; 8% to 13% in Colorado; and 10% to 15% in Nevada.
Discussion: These results hold a great deal of promise for Democratic candidates in the future as the absolute number and overall percentage of Latinos within the total U.S. electorate will only increase, since Latinos are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the U.S. More Latinos will be born as citizens and more foreign-born Latinos will acquire citizenship and be eligible to vote in future elections. The overwhelming support for Obama among younger Latinos offers an important insight into possible future voting patterns and a renewed enthusiasm for Democratic candidates. The rising percentage of Latinos voting for Bush in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 may have been only a temporary shift to the Republican Party.