Ominous Signs for McCain, Republicans in Florida
by Jonathan Singer, Fri Aug 01, 2008 at 03:19:03 AM EDT
Taking a look through the latest Quinnipiac poll from Florida, one particular piece of data jumped out at me: the preferences of likely Hispanic voters in the state. While Barack Obama leads John McCain inside the margin of error over all -- 46 percent to 44 percent -- among Hispanics Obama's lead is much greater, 56 percent to 36 percent.
Doing a little conjecture and number crunching, the margin of error for the subsample of Hispanic voters is somewhere in the neighborhood of plus or minus 7 percentage points, meaning that not only is Obama's lead within this community statistically significant, but the difference between his showing among this community and the state electorate as a whole is also statistically significant.
Why is this important? A glance at the 2004 exit polling gives us an idea. According to those numbers, George W. Bush won the Hispanic vote in Florida by a 56 percent to 44 percent margin over John Kerry, one of the keys to Bush's victory, both in Florida and nationwide. Had Kerry been able to pull in the same share of the Hispanic vote in Florida in 2004 as Obama is pegged at pulling in today, he would have netted roughly 5 percentage points overall -- meaning that Florida would have ended as close to a tie once again, putting the White House much closer to the reach of the Democrats.
The point of this, of course, is not to look backward but to look forward. If Obama can foster the continuation of the trend of Hispanic voters moving from the GOP to the Democratic Party that was seen in 2006 around the country and in Florida -- note that the Democrats' gubernatorial nominee in the state received 49 percent of the Hispanic vote in the state that fall -- his path to the White House will be significantly easier. And if this trend continues unabated into the future, the Republican Party is going to have some serious demographic problems to deal with as their base grows increasingly small relative to the overall electorate while the Democratic base grows rapidly.