The Hispanic Protestant swing vote

swingvoteOkay, everybody. Hang in there. We have just a couple weeks left for election coverage. Add an extra couple of days for mainstream media freak outs or rejoicing and then, hopefully, we'll have a bit of a respite. Anyway, the stories that I'm really looking forward to reading as we close the season out are about how religious voters will end up. The Associated Press had a terribly fascinating look at how Hispanic Protestants are voting in the 2008 presidential election. It begins with a look at Rose Chavez, of Greeley, Colo., and her shift from voting for George W. Bush four years ago to Obama this year:

Now, with two weeks to another election, the 33-year-old is part of a Hispanic Protestant defection to Democrat Barack Obama, a shift that could prove key in battleground states with large Hispanic populations such as Colorado, Nevada, Florida and New Mexico.

Hispanic Protestants accounted for one-third of Hispanic voters in 2004 and unnamed analysts list what is moving their vote. Then we get the polling data that provides the basis for the news:

A report in late July from the Pew Hispanic Center found Obama leading McCain two-to-one among non-Catholic Hispanics who affiliate with a religion -- in other words, mostly evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Other numbers suggest a closer race. Gallup daily tracking polls from Sept. 1 through Friday show Obama leading McCain 47 percent to 43 percent among non-Catholic Hispanic Christians.

This is a great example of how unbelievably variable polls have been this race. A two-to-one margin could mean, for instance, 66 percent of non-Catholic Hispanics support Obama and only 33 percent support McCain. That would be a 33 point margin. Other polls give Obama the lead by four points. One of the things that I usually dislike about stories like this is that we get no historical perspective. Not so with this story:

In 2004, exit polls showed 63 percent of Hispanic Protestants supported Bush. In 2000, that demographic group supported Democrat Al Gore by a similar margin. Hispanic Catholics have largely remained loyal to the Democratic Party, so evangelicals and Pentecostals are swinging the Hispanic vote.

Hispanic Protestants of various political stripes are quoted and the immigration issue comes up quite a bit. The big issue I wondered about, and which wasn't addressed in the story, was why Hispanic Catholics are more loyal to the Democratic Party than other Hispanic Christians.

Please respect our Commenting Policy