Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Hispanic electoral heft oversold for the infinity billionth time

Tuesday's WSJ article by Elizabeth Holmes on McCain's speech to LULAC makes the oft-repeated exaggerated assertion of Hispanic electoral power:
Views of conservative Republicans are often at odds with those of Hispanic voters, a small but critical bloc because of the latter's large populations in swing states. Hispanics make up only 9% of the eligible electorate nationwide, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, part of the Pew Research Center. But they account for 37% of the electorate in New Mexico, 14% in Florida and 12% each in Colorado and Nevada.
Okay, but they do not respectively account for the actual percentage of voters in the country or in those states. In the last three election cycles, Hispanics have topped out at 6% of the total electorate.

While around two-thirds of Hispanics vote Democratic, Hispanics struggled to post those numbers in the Democratic primaries (where whites are underrepresented relative to their heft in the general election). Hispanic voters as a percentage of the total vote in the '08 Democratic contests:

New Mexico -- 35% (they account for 37% of the "eligible electorate")
Florida -- 12% (14% of eligible)
Nevada -- 15% (12% of eligible)
(No exit polling was conducted for Colorado)

Hispanic voters as a percentage of the total on the Republican side for the two states where exit polling took place:

Florida -- 12% (14% of eligible)
Nevada -- 8% (12% of eligible)

With the relatively affluent Cuban population, Florida's Hispanics are skewed to the right. The Democrats' proportional Hispanic advantage in Nevada, double the Republican proportion, is more nationally representative. Of the 25 states where exit polling was conducted for both parties' contests, on average Hispanics comprised 7.7% of the Democratic vote and 3.7% of the Republican vote. That's basically a 2-to-1 Democratic advantage (67.5% to 32.5%)--virtually identical to a Gallup poll conducted from March through June showing Obama ahead of McCain 67%-33% among Hispanic voters with a stated Presidential preference (88% of those polled).

Multiplying the Hispanic proportion on the Democratic side by .75 provides a reasonable estimate of proportional Hispanic turnout by state in the upcoming general election. Thus that reported 37% for New Mexico is probably about 10 points higher than the actual Hispanic turnout will end up being.

When thinking about this, keep in mind that when proportions are small they tend to be, if anything, artifically inflated in exit polls (the '04 Presidential election exit polls being a prime example, where Hispanics were initially reported to represent 8% of the electorate but turned out, upon more meticulous inspection by the Pew Hispanic Center, to comprise only 6% of the total). The 'repudiation' above probably actually overstates the Hispanic proportions a bit.

And the assertion that Hispanics are heavily concentrated in the swing states relative to their distribution throughout the rest of the country is simply not true. More than half of the country's Hispanics live in California or Texas, two of the most electorally reliable states. Of the ten most competitive states in the 2004 election, only two are proportionally more Hispanic than the nation at large, New Mexico (third closest) and Nevada (seventh closest). The other eight (in order of competitiveness)--Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon, have (far) smaller Hispanic proportions of their total populations than the country does as a whole.

Finally, allow me to leave my restrictionist readers with this comforting excerpt from the same article:
Sen. McCain and his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, share more similar views on immigration than perhaps on any other policy issue.
Vote for Chuck Baldwin or Bob Barr.

3 comments:

Steve Sailer said...

The battleground states in 2004 mostly turned out to fall into one of two classes:

- Great Lakes Blue Collar states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, whose populations are primarily white and black.

- Clean Green states like New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Oregon, whose populations are heavily white.

John S. Bolton said...

It might be that it is wanted to provide excuses for the inexcusable, or make resonable-sounding, the hopelessly unreasonable. Republican concessions to the latino racial activists are pure poison; they are inexcusable and unreasonable. Most everyone to their left though, including an overwhelming percentage of journalists, academics and officials, would very much like to see the Republicans keep making those concessions. It's advice from the left, which ought to raise suspicions too. It is narcotizing to the loyal part of the citizenry as well. 'He had to do it to avoid alienating the indispensable latino vote' tends to lead to resignation, all to the benefit of the power-greed of the left.

Audacious Epigone said...

Steve,

Right, states that have few Hispanics, as you've pointed out in several articles.

JSB,

That the advice primarily comes from those hostile to the Republican party or from blank slate libertarians should make one weary right off the bat. And quoting the Republican minority in favor of open borders in articles/stories aims to create that feeling of resignation. From the article, the sole Republican voice not working for the McCain campaign quoted is a guy named Juan Jose Perez. Take a guess at what he supports.

It usually doesn't take much digging to discover how unsubstantiated the claims are anyway, though.