Explaining the Latino Vote in 2008 and 2012

Publication Year



politics, Latino voters, voting, presidential elections, public opinion, Latino community


American Politics | Chicana/o Studies | Latina/o Studies | Political History | Political Science | United States History


President Obama swept the 2008 election, beating John McCain with a +7.6 spread. In 2012, this margin was narrowed to +.7 in the race against Mitt Romney. This can be attributed largely to President Obama's running as the incumbent in a sluggish economy on 2012, a much more difficult political position than the one he held in 2008. However, while President Obama's overall vote share went down, his percentage of the Latino vote increased between 2008 and 2012. McCain managed to garner 31% overall, whereas Romney only received 27% of the Latino vote.

Why did the Latino vote share increase in between the two elections if the overall vote share shifted so far away from Obama? It must, I argue, be explained through successful messaging, as well as the weakness of the Republican candidate. While many of the issues that Latino voters rank as the most important have not necessarily been solved or fixed by President Obama, his platform was still the more viable option for the majority of Latino voters.Even with the lack of comprehensive immigration reform, continuing high unemployment numbers, and an overall sluggish economy, Mitt Romney still received the lowest share of the Latino vote since Bob Dole ran for office. I hypothesize that this is not due to President Obama accomplishing all the policy goals he set out in his bid for election in 2008, but that instead Mitt Romney proved a much less credible candidate than John McCain.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

Political Science

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