Hispanics And The 2008 Election: A Swing Vote?
After spending the first part of this decade loosening their historic ties to the Democratic Party, Hispanic voters have reversed course in the past year. Some 57% of Hispanic registered voters now call themselves Democrats or say they lean to the Democratic Party, while just 23% align with the Republican Party — meaning there is now a 34-percentage-point gap in partisan affiliation among Latinos. In July 2006, the same gap measured just 21 percentage points — whereas back in 1999, it had been 33 percentage points. This U-turn in Hispanic partisan allegiance trends comes at a time when the issue of illegal immigration has become an intense focus of national attention and debate
Hispanics are the nation’s largest and fastest growing minority group; at 46 million strong, they make up about 15% of the U.S. population. Their electoral clout continues to be undercut, however, by the fact that many are ineligible to vote, either because they are not citizens or not yet 18 years old. In 2008, Latinos will comprise about 9% of the eligible electorate nationwide. If past turnout trends persist, they will make up only about 6.5% of those who actually turn out to vote next November.