Friday, November 9, 2012

Who “won” the Miami exile vote? And the “myth” of the 44 percent "victory" for "W." Bush

The overwhelming pre-election theme when it came to Florida and its sizable Cuban exile community centered around Miami was that all those aging angry people were going to put the Sunshine State’s electoral college votes into Mitt Romney’s column.
Does this sign even apply to Barack Obama?

It would be the Cuban exile community’s political support that would shift the Latino supporter toward Romney’s presidential aspirations. Heck, it might well e the Cuban-American voter bloc that would cause just enough shift that we’d now have “President-elect Mitt Romney.”

THEN AGAIN, WE also had the predictions saying that the storm known as Sandy would cause such significant delays in vote counting that it would be days, if not weeks, before we knew who won the election.

So much for pre-election predictions!

Because Barack Obama won re-election. He won with a significant Latino vote. We knew fairly early on who won the election. There really weren’t any surprises.

Except for one. It seems that Obama won the Miami exile community’s vote. Admittedly, not by much. But even if a margin of error is taken into account, it's not the blowout for Romney that would have been expected.

THE PEW HISPANIC Center released its own analysis of the Latino vote cast on Tuesday. And it seems that in Florida among voters who identified themselves as being of Cuban ethnicity, 49 percent went for Obama – compared to 47 percent for Romney.

Floridians who are of other Latin American ethnic origins went for Obama 66 percent to 34 percent for Romney (which isn’t far from the national overall Latino shares of 71 percent for Obama and 27 percent for Romney – or is it 69 percent for Obama and 29 percent for Romney, as other exit polls contend?).

The idea that a slim majority of Cuban-American people voted for someone other than the Republican is a concept that astounds me. Even if it is only common sense that the exiles are aging and their five-decade vitriol against the Democratic Party is not being passed along to the next generation.

Perhaps it is just another group that Romney couldn’t quite dominate to the degree that he should have been expected to; and yet another way in which his campaign fell short of a potential Election Day victory.

OVERALL, IT SEEMS 10 percent of the electorate this cycle was Latino, compared to 9 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 2004. The Latino vote is steadily on the rise – no matter how much some people are determined to believe it is irrelevant.

When it comes to the Latino vote, there’s one figure we’ve been hearing a lot of in recent weeks – 44.

As in 44 percent, the share of the Latino vote that George W. Bush’s re-election bid in 2004 allegedly received. It is supposed to be such a large share of the Latino vote for a Republican that it undermined Democrat John Kerry’s campaign.

It also is based on exit polls similar to the ones that give us the 71 (or 69) percent Latino support figure for Obama.

BUT THERE ARE those who contend that the 44 percent figure placed too much weight on a Miami Cuban vote, thereby tilting the scale too far toward the Bush side. I have heard some activists claim that a 36 percent figure would be more accurate – although the Pew Hispanic Center has come up with their own figure of 40 percent.

That is still a high figure for a Republican, and discouraging for society as a whole because it means encouragement for a political party to “lose” the Latino vote and think of it as a victory.

It also adds to the significance of the concept that maybe Obama “won” Cuban-American voters. Perhaps if GOP partisans realize that even their reliable exile-types are changing, they will see the need to adapt themselves as well.

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