Monday, November 05, 2012

Latino Vote "Delivery"

Matt Barreto argues that if Latino turnout is high, it could "deliver" Nevada, Colorado, Virginia and Florida to Barack Obama. The Latino vote is really important, but "delivery" may be too strong, for two reasons.

First, Obama needs more than just Latinos to win these states. Since he needs votes from other constituencies, then can we not argue that they "delivered" the state? Instead, we need to look at the combination of factors that led to victory. I've written about this lots of times for North Carolina--if the vote is close, can we say Latinos were the key factor, or should we say that turnout among African Americans was the key?

Second, high Latino turnout in Florida can actually work against Obama. That's why the Romney campaign is running ads in Miami trying to tie Obama to Hugo Chávez and Raúl Castro. It's a silly argument, but points to the lingering pro-Republican sentiment among Cuban Americans and now also Venezuelan Americans. So in Florida, it depends on which Latinos you're talking about.

I get it. In many ways Latino Decisions is a cheerleader of sorts as well as a polling organization, and they want to emphasize the importance of the Latino vote. And it is important, but not automatically more important than other constituencies. Nonetheless, I will be very interested to see if their prediction of 73% support for Obama (which would the highest of any election) holds up. If turnout is high, and Obama gets that level of support, then I may well be at least a bit more willing to talk about delivery.


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