Taylor and Richard Fry
Pew Hispanic Center
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, a new nationwide survey of Latinos by the Pew
Hispanic Center has found.
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 was just 21 percentage points –
whereas back in 1999, it had been 33 percentage points.
The new survey finds that a plurality of
Hispanics view the Democratic Party rather than the
Republican Party as the one that shows more concern for
Latinos and does a better job on the issue of illegal
immigration (although a substantial minority of Latinos
see no difference between the parties on these matters).
Also, many more Latinos say the policies of the Bush
Administration have been harmful to Latinos than say
they have been helpful.
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.
But despite these modest numbers,
Hispanics loom as a potential "swing vote" in next
year's presidential race. That's because they are
strategically located on the 2008 Electoral College map.
Hispanics constitute a sizable share of the electorate
in four of the six states that President Bush carried by
margins of five percentage points or fewer in 2004 –New
Mexico (where Hispanics make up 37% of state's eligible
electorate); Florida (14%); Nevada (12%) and Colorado
(12%). All four are expected to be closely contested
once again in 2008.
The analysis of Hispanic partisan
affiliation and political attitudes is based on the new
2007 National Survey of Latinos. The survey was
conducted by telephone from Oct 3 through Nov 9, 2007
among a randomly selected, nationally representative
sample of 2,003 Hispanics, of whom 843 are registered
voters. The state electoral analysis uses recent Census
In addition to the state-by-state
demographic and electoral data, an Appendix includes the
most recent information on Hispanics by congressional