A new survey finds Hispanic voters in the United States overwhelmingly
back Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in the
presidential race. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
McCain represents Arizona, a state that borders Mexico and has a large
Latin American immigrant community. Unlike Senator Obama, who is
relatively new to the national spotlight, McCain is well known as a
longtime advocate of many causes that are popular among Hispanics,
including comprehensive immigration reform.
It is therefore all
the more surprising that the latest poll shows Hispanics backing Obama
over McCain by a ratio of nearly three-to-one.
The survey of
more than 2,000 registered voters of Latin American descent was
conducted by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center. Sixty-six
percent of respondents said they support Senator Obama, compared to 23
percent for Senator McCain. Seventy-six percent of respondents said
they view Obama favorably, while 44 percent said they have a favorable
view of McCain.
Although the U.S. Hispanic community is diverse,
from Cuban-Americans in Florida to Mexican-Americans in California, the
Pew survey showed little variance among the segments of the community
that were identified in the poll.
"This support for Obama is
quite broad-based, and there are few differences within demographic
groups. We did not detect important differences in support for Barack
Obama between Hispanic registered voters who were born in the United
States and those who are immigrants. We also did not detect differences
in support for Obama between Latino voters who preferred to be
interviewed in Spanish and those who preferred to be interviewed in
English," said Susan Minushkin, the Pew Hispanic Center's deputy
The survey numbers seem to indicate a dramatic
turnaround in Obama's fortunes among Hispanics. During the primary
season, they voted overwhelmingly for Obama's rival, Senator Hillary
Clinton. Some analysts at the time suggested a racial component to the
trend, given friction and economic competition between Hispanics and
African Americans for lower-paying jobs.
But the Pew survey
finds only 11 percent of Hispanics view Obama's race as a detriment,
while more than half say the fact that he is black makes no difference
to them. A similar proportion said McCain's race is unimportant.
says Obama appears to have successfully picked up the backing of
Hispanic former-Clinton supporters.
"Seventy-six percent of those who
voted for Clinton in the primaries now say they would vote for or are
leaning toward Obama. This compared favorably with the 70 percent of
non-Hispanic white Clinton voters who said they have transferred their
allegiance to Obama. Finally, more than half of all Latino voters say
that Obama is better for Hispanics, compared with just seven percent
who say that McCain would be better for Hispanics," she said.
survey found Hispanics rate economic and financial issues as their top
concerns, mirroring polls with similar results for the nation as a
When it comes to party preference, 65 percent of
respondents in the Pew survey self-identify as Democrats or
Democratic-leaning voters, compared to 26 percent who consider
themselves Republicans or Republican-leaning voters. Historically,
Hispanics have tended to vote Democratic, although President Bush made
significant inroads among Hispanics in his successful presidential
bids, winning 40 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.
now stand as America's largest minority group, accounting for roughly
15 percent of the U.S. population. Although many Hispanics do not vote,
either because they lack citizenship or are not of legal voting age,
those that are registered do represent a critical voting bloc in
battleground states such as Florida, Colorado and New Mexico that could
prove decisive in the November election.