Analysis: Hispanic Vote Not Decisive in Obama Victory

Exit polls from the 2012 election show that Mitt Romney would have lost Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Hampshire even if he had received 100% of the Hispanic vote in those states. This undercuts the notion that Republicans will not win national elections unless they moderate their stances on issues like amnesty and the DREAM Act to court more Hispanics.

Hispanics still do not make up a significant number of voters in some of the country's most important swing states, so so long as the electoral college is in place, discussions about how the "Hispanic vote" will swing elections may be overblown. 

In fact, The New York Times and Edison research examined the exit polling and noted any Republican “crafting a strategy that focuses solely on Hispanic voters and immigration policy in order to win back the White House in 2016” may “want to re-examine this year’s exit poll results.”

According to the analysis, in Wisconsin, for instance, Hispanics cast 122,264 out of state’s 3,056,613 votes, which was 4 percent. Obama won Wisconsin by more than 200,000 votes, which means even if Romney had received 100% of the Hispanic vote in Wisconsin, he would have still lost the state. The same was true in Iowa and New Hampshire, two more critical swing states. 

  • In Ohio, Obama received roughly 54% of the Hispanic vote and could have won the state with as little as 22% of the Hispanic vote
  • In Virginia, Obama received 64% of the Hispanic vote, but could have won with roughly 33 percent. 
  • In Colorado, Obama received 75% of the Hispanic vote, but could have won with roughly 58%. 
  • In Nevada, Obama received 71% of the Hispanic vote, but could have won with roughly 54%.

This means even if Romney had received nearly 80% of the Hispanic vote in Ohio, 70% in Virginia, and roughly 50% in Colorado and Nevada, he would have still lost those states. In Florida, Obama received 60% of the Hispanic vote and could have won with 58%, which means the Hispanic vote mattered in this state. 

The numbers are more alarming in liberal states like California or more competitive states like Pennsylvania. 

In California, Obama received 72% of the Hispanic vote but could have won with 25%, which means Romney would have lost California even if he had won 75% if the Hispanic vote. 

In Pennsylvania, Obama received 80% of the Hispanic vote, but would have won the state with roughly 37% of Pennsylvania's Hispanics, which means Romney would have lost the state even if he had received an astronomical 63% of the Hispanic vote.

Further, the exit polling found Hispanics were more liberal than whites when it came to abortion (67% in favor of legalization), Obamacare (60% in favor), and whether there should be more government intervention (57% in favor). 

These numbers indicate that the moderate, establishment Republican strategy of attempting to appeal to Hispanics by taking Democrat-lite positions on immigration and the panic in some GOP circles regarding the Hispanic vote may not be warranted. 


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