Frederico Pena, the former secretary of energy under President Clinton and mayor of Denver, told the Associated Press earlier this week that battleground states such as Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Florida would not have been won by Obama if not for the Latino voting bloc.
Poll numbers show voters backed Obama over Sen. John McCain by a 2-to-1 margin. McCain's 31 percent was significantly lower than the 44 percent President Bush garnered in 2004.
But, Mark Krikorian, writing "The Corner" blog at National Review, has an alternative view of the Latino vote's tangible power in this year's election.
According to the usual suspects, the benchmark in garnering Hispanic votes for Republicans is Bush's 40 percent showing in 2004. So what would have happened if McCain had matched Bush's performance, instead of the 31 percent he actually got? Based on CNN's exit polls, McCain still would have lost Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, not to mention, say, California and New Jersey. Conversely, even if Obama had won 90 percent of the Hispanic vote in Texas, instead of 63 percent, he still would have lost the state. With the possible exception of North Carolina, where the results were close but the number of Hispanic voters is too small to register in the exit poll, there doesn't seem to be a single state where the Hispanic vote was critical to the outcome.If the Latino vote didn't sway a single state one way or the other, what gives? Why are Latino leaders patting themselves on the backs and Republicans stressing over the loss of a group perceived to be "conservative-ready"?
The importance of Latinos voting in greater numbers for Democrats, along with their demographic growing larger and tending to be younger, in general, could portend great discomfort for future conservatives trying to win not only presidential electoral politics, but governorships in the West and seats in Congress.
An article at U.S. News indicates Latinos' switch toward Obama may have been part of an overall disillusionment by all demographics from eight years of President Bush.
Economic factors are on the minds of most Americans but may have hit Latinos harder. According to the article, Latinos are twice as likely to receive high-interest loans than whites, putting them at risk for financial upheaval in this tumultuous financial climate.
Disproportionately higher unemployment for Latinos may have also changed perceptions, as did the relative absence of gay marriage (excluding California and two other states) and abortion as issues to stoke latent conservative values Latinos tend to possess.
Luis Ricardo Fraga, an associate provost at the University of Washington and former Stanford University professor, will share his insights on the role of Latino voters in the 2008 election and the history of Latino voting patterns from 1960 to present, in a speech to The Commonwealth Club on November 19 at Morris Dailey Auditorium on the campus of San Jose State University.