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Hispanics Heed Bush's Security, Values Election Themes…Or, Did They?

Hispanics Heed Bush's Security, Values Election Themes

November 4, 2004 
Copyright © 2004
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON (AP)--President George W. Bush parlayed an aggressive outreach effort and campaign themes of moral values and fighting terrorism into increased support from Hispanics to help him win re-election.

Bush's gains thwarted Democratic Sen. John Kerry's hopes that Hispanic growth in Western states could offset political losses in the Midwest and South. It was the second election where Bush was able to cut into the Democrats' advantage among Latinos.

Analysts and Hispanic groups viewed that development and the election of two Latinos to the Senate as signs of the growing political clout enjoyed by one of the nation's fastest-growing voting blocs.

"You cannot take a look at the Hispanic vote monolithically," said Maria Cardona, senior vice president of the New Democrat Network, a centrist Democratic group that spent about $6 million in Latino-targeted advertising for Kerry. "The bottom line is Hispanics are increasingly one of the most important swing vote groups in American politics today."

Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks found Bush winning 44% of the Hispanic vote, up from 35% in 2000. Kerry won 53%, down from 62% four years ago for Democrat Al Gore.

One-third of Hispanics said they were born-again Christians and nearly 20% listed moral values as their top issue, suggesting they have more in common with Republicans than Democrats in some areas. They supported Bush by more than a 3-to-1 margin.

Hispanics placed more weight on moral issues than in the past, said University of New Mexico political scientist Chris Garcia.

"I'm not saying that the Democrats saw the Latino vote for granted ... but this is a major lesson," Garcia said.

Adam Segal, director of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University, said Bush's campaign ads on abortion and gay marriage on Spanish-language media outlets in the days up to the election may have helped. Democrats have criticized those ads for using what they called fear tactics to sway voters.

About 18% of Hispanics listed fighting terrorism as their first priority, and they favored Bush by a similar 3-to-1 margin, according to the exit polling conducted by Edison Media Research/Mitofsky International.

Bush won the support of four in 10 Mexican-Americans, which combined with strong support from Cuban-Americans to help the president take more overall Latino support away from Democrats.

The election of Cuban-born and Republican Mel Martinez to the Senate in Florida may have helped Bush gain more support from that state's Hispanics than in 2000, despite the big push by both parties to win over the state's fast-growing non-Cuban, Hispanic population. Among all Florida Hispanics, Bush edged Kerry 56% to 44%, compared with the president's 49%-48% edge over Gore in 2000.

Kerry did better in the Southwest battlegrounds of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, where combined the Massachusetts Democrat won 70% of the Hispanic vote to 29% for Bush.

Cardona, Segal and other analysts pointed to another exit poll from the William C. Velasquez Institute, a Los Angeles-based nonpartisan research group, as proof that Bush's gains among Hispanics this year may have been overstated. That poll found Kerry enjoyed a 2-to-1 advantage similar to Gore's support in 2000.

Regardless, both sides boosted their Hispanic-targeted, grass-roots efforts. But Kerry "was still undefined in the minds of many Hispanics," Segal said. Bush often appears more comfortable at Latino events and can speak some Spanish.

Nationally, early estimates show that at least 7 million Hispanics went to the polls, over 1 million more than in 2000. In the Senate, Martinez will join Sen.-elect Ken Salazar, D-Colo., as the chamber's first two Latinos in more than a quarter-century.

"It's a landmark election for the Latino community," said Harry Pachon, of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute in Los Angeles. "Ten years ago, no one would have talked about an exit poll about Latinos."

Poll: Bush's Latino Backing Flat

Figures from think tank contradict claims Bush got more Hispanic votes this time.



November 12, 2004 
Copyright © 2004 Citizen Washington Bureau. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON - A poll released this week contradicts one conducted by major news organizations that showed President Bush has made strong gains among Hispanic voters since 2000.

The William C. Velasquez Institute, a prominent nonpartisan Hispanic think tank, found that Bush got 35 percent of the Hispanic vote Nov. 2, the percentage he garnered in 2000 against Democrat Al Gore.

Sen. John Kerry, according to the institute's poll, got slightly more support among Hispanic voters than Gore did in 2000, receiving about 65 percent of that vote.

"The Latino vote did not sway or swing to Republicans in this election," Antonio Gonzalez, the institute's president, told reporters.

The poll's results paint a far different portrait of the Hispanic vote than a national exit poll commissioned by The Associated Press and major television networks. That poll, released last week, showed Bush collected 44 percent of Hispanic votes to Kerry's 53 percent.

In 2000, the national exit poll showed Gore with 62 percent and Bush with 35 percent.

Gonzalez said the national exit poll was inaccurate because pollsters did not interview enough Hispanic voters in urban areas, where most Hispanics live.

The pollsters for AP and other news organizations interviewed 13,660 voters across the country on Election Day. Warren Mitofsky, president of Mitofsky International, one of the firm's involved in AP's poll, declined comment because he had not seen results of the institute's poll.

Gonzalez argued that his findings are more accurate because they are similar to results of other polls of Hispanic voters carried out in months leading up to the election.

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