Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Hispanic Voters in Denver are Leaning Towards Obama

Results of a focus group performed in Denver this week show that at least in this state,Hispanics are favoring Obama and feel that he is more relatable than John McCain….

If Barack Obama is really going to redraw the political map this year, this isn’t a bad place to start. Colorado’s nine electoral votes have gone blue in only one of the last 10 elections, but they look within Obama’s reach now according to recent polling. The same goes for nearby Nevada (with five votes) and New Mexico (also five). If John McCain weren’t from Arizona, its 10 votes might be up for grabs, too. Latino voters are a big reason that Democrats may find new electoral power in the West. In all the Southwestern states Obama is targeting, Latinos make up at least 12 percent of the eligible voters; in New Mexico, the Hispanic vote is a staggering 37 percent of the electorate. (Latinos are now the largest and fastest-growing minority group in the country, making up an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. population, though only about 9 percent of the electorate.)

No wonder the Democratic convention kicked off Monday with an invocation by Polly Baca, a former Colorado state senator and an activist on behalf of Latinos, then jumped to remarks by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus leaders, before delegates headed off to (among other parties) a massive gala sponsored by all the major Latino civil rights groups later in the evening.

In a focus group here Monday morning for the Annenberg Center for Public Policy, run by Democratic pollster Peter Hart, the nature of that opportunity was on display. Annenberg convened 12 Latino voters from around the Denver area and asked them to speak about the election for two hours. Of the 12, five supported Obama, three supported John McCain, and four were undecided — but two of the undecided voters said they were leaning toward Obama. The issues they said were important to them were the same issues that pollsters are finding matter to most Americans: ending the war in Iraq, turning around the economy, and improving access to affordable healthcare.

But the voters in the focus group — even the McCain supporters — said they weren’t worried at all that Obama would favor one racial group over another. “What I do see with Obama is that from his background — minority, black, blah blah blah, everything — I can relate to that,” said Vaneska Mayor, 33, a chemist from Thornton, Colo., who grew up in Puerto Rico. “Because I’m not rich, and I’m a woman, and I’m a Latina, and my mom forced me to learn English even though I didn’t want to, so I could have a better life.”

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