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Despite Media Myths, Obama Dominant Among Hispanic and Jewish Voters

October 27, 2008

Among the enduring myths of the 2008 election have been the purported struggles of Barack Obama in securing the support of Hispanic and Jewish voters. But as new polls suggest, Obama will not only dominate John McCain among these groups, he may outperform Al Gore and John Kerry as well.
A recent survey from Gallup revealed a 50 point edge for Obama among Jewish voters. Starting from a two-to-one lead in June, Obama now enjoys triple the support of John McCain:

Jewish voters nationwide have grown increasingly comfortable with voting for Barack Obama for president since the Illinois senator secured the Democratic nomination in June. They now favor Obama over John McCain by more than 3 to 1, 74% to 22%.

With those numbers, Senator Obama is earning the backing of Jewish voters at roughly the same levels Democrats have historically enjoyed. In 2000, Al Gore crushed George W. Bush 80% to 17% among Jews; in 2004, John Kerry pummeled Bush by 74% to 25%.
Despite the best efforts of the Republican Party to falsely brand Obama a Muslim, a terrorist, weak on Israel and even the harbinger of a second Holocaust, the Democrat continues to enjoy solid support among one his party's most faithful constituencies. And while John McCain's dutiful Joe Lieberman has had little impact with Jewish voters, his extremist running mate Sarah Palin apparently has succeeded in scaring them away. (As Gallup noted, the economic crisis has had the same effect among Jewish voters as everyone else - driving support to Obama.)
So, too, with the Hispanic electorate. The xenophobic rhetoric of the GOP and John McCain's serial flip-flops on immigration reform are turning the Hispanic vote into a blue wave for Barack Obama.
Many commentators saw Obama's struggles among Latinos during the primary campaign against Hillary Clinton as a window of opportunity for John McCain. As the data show, that simply has not come to pass.
In a poll released on October 21st, Gallup showed Obama enjoying a 62% to 30% margin among the nation's 43 million Hispanic voters. Among Catholic Hispanics, the delta grows to 39%. Those numbers are consistent with a Pew Research study in July, which found a 43 percentage point gap (66-23).
If Obama's standing among Hispanics persists on November 4th, he will beat the Democratic performance over the past two presidential election cycles. Eight years ago, Al Gore topped George Bush among Hispanic voters by 27 points, 62% to 35%. In 2004, Bush narrowed the gap substantially, losing to Kerry by only 53% to 44%. But by the 2006 mid-terms, Republican anti-immgrant hysteria was already costing McCain's party, as Democrats captured 69% of the Hispanic vote. While McCain himself is not a standard bearer of the anti-immigrant message, his association with his Republican Party's hard line position virtually ensures Barack Obama will significantly outpoll John Kerry among Latino voters.
Back in June, MSNBC's Chuck Todd punctured the myth of Barack Obama's supposed Hispanic problem:

It's no longer fair to say that Obama has a problem with Latino voters; McCain does. This was a case of conventional wisdom that was never based on fact, just semi-informed speculation based on primary exit polling and bad stereotypes of Latinos.

What Chuck Todd said then is also now true of Jewish voters. It is John McCain who has a problem.
UPDATE: MSNBC's Todd today concluded "Obama's dominance among Hispanics in the West is proving to be the difference maker in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico" and that "it's Hispanics that could be putting him over the top on Nov. 4."

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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