Worth Discussing

Huge Hispanic Support for Obama Was No Sure Thing

Charlie Cook | National Journal | February 8, 2013
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At this point, the narrative is pretty familiar to all: President Obama beat GOP nominee Mitt Romney by 44 percentage points among Latinos, 71 percent to 27 percent, exceeding the 67 percent of the Latino vote he won in 2008 over John McCain. Obama’s popularity among Hispanics since Election Day remains impressive; Gallup’s compilation of about 15,000 total interviews each month shows the president with job-approval ratings among Latinos of 74 percent in November, 75 percent in December, and 70 percent in January.

But as recently as a year ago, one might not have guessed this would happen. In January 2012, Obama’s approval rating among Latinos stood at only 55 percent, 12 points below his share of the 2008 Latino vote. During 2011, his rating among this group dropped as low as 48 percent, with a 41 percent disapproval rating. In other words, Obama’s big electoral win among Latino voters, who made up 14 percent of his total vote according to national exit polls, was not a foregone conclusion.

For much of the president’s first term, grumbling among Latino voters was considerable. The jobless rate was significantly higher among Hispanics than the population as a whole; indeed, the Latino unemployment rate was at 12 percent or higher for 20 of 24 months during Obama’s first two years in office; it was in double digits for 45 of the entire 48 months. Not that many blamed Obama for a recession that began before his election, but who could fault Hispanics for feeling disaffected or less-than-energized about his reelection?

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Filed under: President Obama and Hispanic Voters