Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Romney Failed to Capture Key Florida Demographics

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In an NBC News analysis, one of the key reasons behind is narrow loss in Florida came to light.  Data revealed in the analysis showed that the majority of Florida’s Jewish, Hispanic, and even Cuban-American voters chose Barack Obama.

The Romney team put a lot of effort in to the state’s Jewish community this election, however, it looks as though they might have put too many of their apples in one cart.  Although Mitt Romney was able to lure in more  Jewish voters this election than John McCain was in 2008, his support among this critical demographic was not nearly as high as I am sure his campaign expected.   Romney picked up only 30% of the vote in Florida, while President Obama won 66%.

While this year did show an 11% decrease in the state’s Jewish support for Obama, it looks like it came at a rough price. The Cuban-American vote.

Republicans, especially those in Florida, have traditionally enjoyed an advantage among the more conservative leaning Cuban-Americans.  This has been particularly helpful in the Sunshine State, as they make up a large percentage of the Latino population.  In 2008, John McCain lost the overall Latino vote in Florida, but still came out on top among the state’s Cuban Americans with over 60% of the vote.

This year, however, things were a little different.  Not only did Mitt Romney lose ground among Latino voters as a whole, winning only 39% of their vote compared to McCain’s 43% in 2008, but he also relinquished the traditional Republican lead among Cuban-Americans.

In 2008, President Obama won only 35% of the Cuban American vote in Florida.  This year, however, the President virtually tied his Republican counterpart in terms of support within the Latino community.  The NBC News Analysis found Obama to have lead among Cuban Americans 49/47, while an exit poll from Bendixen & Amandi International reported a 52/48 split in favor of Mitt Romney.

Regardless, this presents a key insight into why Mr. Romney failed to secure the state’s 29 electoral votes.  Latino’s in general were relatively ignored this election season, especially by Romney, who needed their support in order to secure a win.  It is unclear whether this was an intentional move so that they could focus on other key demographics (like Jews), or an unintentional slip-up on by the Romney campaign.

These statistics could be troublesome for the future of the Republican party, as it suggests an alignment shift among one of the party’s most loyal demographics.  As the older, Castro-generation, Cuban American’s begin to phase out, and younger Cuban American’s phase in, the party must undoubtedly address Latino issues in a more nuanced way if they wish to maintain any Latino support.

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