Poll: Obama Has Large Lead Among Hispanics

Lesley Clark, Miami Herald, July 25, 2008

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Results of the Pew Hispanic Center survey show Obama with 66 percent of the Hispanic vote to McCain’s 23 percent.

The results represent a “sharp reversal” in Obama’s fortunes from the primaries, when he lost the Latino vote to Clinton by nearly 2-1, prompting speculation that Hispanics were leery of voting for a black candidate, said Susan Minushkin, the center’s deputy director.

Instead, the survey found that three times as many respondents said being black would help Obama with Hispanic voters, as opposed to those who said it would hurt. And 53 percent said his race would make no difference.

The poll by the nonpartisan research organization is based on a telephone survey of 2,015 Hispanics, 892 of whom were registered voters. Interviews were conducted June 9 through July 13. The overall survey has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, and the margin of error for registered voters is 4.4 percentage points.

COURTING THE VOTE

The poll comes as both campaigns are making a concerted effort to woo Hispanic voters: McCain has been advertising for six weeks on Spanish-language radio in Florida, along with Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, the four battle ground states with sizable Hispanic populations. And Obama’s campaign Wednesday unveiled its first Spanish-language ad in Florida.

Both candidates have appeared before leading Hispanic groups to pledge support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. But McCain has faced a steep climb: critics have accused him of softening his stance on his own immigration legislation during the GOP primary, when his support for immigration reform threatened to derail his candidacy as his rivals and parts of the GOP base assailed the effort.

The poll suggests the GOP brand is sinking with Latinos, even as it suggests that immigration is not a driving factor for the Hispanic electorate.

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IN LINE WITH PAST

The poll shows Obama attracting Hispanic support at about the same level as John Kerry in 2004, and McCain underperforming compared with President Bush, who was pulling 32 percent of the Hispanic vote in a similar Pew poll in July 2004. Bush garnered about 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2004 election, a record for a GOP presidential candidate.

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