Sunny News For Democrats: Obama May Be Leading Among Florida Hispanics

Latinos are considered especially important as a voting population this year because it’s expected they’ll help decide whether four key battleground states go red or blue – Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, for a total of 46 electoral college votes.

Of those four, Florida is by far the most important, the mother of all battleground states, with 27 electoral votes. The Sunshine State gave the Democratic campaign some encouraging news over the weekend, when a new poll showed Sen. Barack Obama holding a slight lead over Republican Sen. John McCain among Hispanics in Florida. Polls already showed Obama ahead in the other three “Hispanic battleground states.” Overall, the new poll says, he leads McCain 2-to-1 among Latinos in swing states.

The Orlando Sentinel gave these details on the new poll by Newlink Research:

Of those surveyed in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania, 63 percent said they would vote for Obama, while 27 percent preferred McCain.

In Florida, 49 percent of Hispanics surveyed favored Obama to McCain’s 43 percent, and the margin of error is 3.75 percentage points. Newlink Research polled 684 likely voters in those key states.

Previous polls had given McCain a slight lead or called Florida a virtual tie, which seems to show it’s too early to make any definitive judgment on which direction Florida’s Latinos are going to lean.

That was the message from Sentinel columnist George Diaz last week -before this poll was released. Pointing to another poll that had shown McCain leading among Florida Hispanics by 10 points a couple of weeks ago, Diaz wrote:

It wasn’t too long ago that Florida Democrats were celebrating a surge among Hispanic voters. They were a new generation that embraced new ideas, breaking rank from the wrinkly graybeards stuck in a 1960s time warp.

You might want to cancel the Republican obit.

Old-school isn’t going away quietly.

The key to this election, Diaz argued, is whether the Democrats will be able to translate a recent surge in Latino registrations into voter turnout on Election Day .

“No poll can figure out whether that great new Democratic wave will wash down upon us,” said state Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando. “They may sit home or they may come out in huge numbers. This has been an unprecedented voter drive. If people show up at the polls, it’s going to be brutal [for the Republicans].”

The fight, as yet another Florida poll seems to show, will be particularly intense in Central Florida, where the race could be decided. That area is home to a coveted population of almost a quarter million swing voters, most of them Puerto Ricans or other Hispanics. This section of the Latino population is considered to be less conservative than the traditional Cuban-American voting bloc in South Florida.

In fact, candidates of all levels have spent $3.5 million in TV ads in the Central Florida market in just one month. Well aware of the challenge ahead of them, Democrats have outspent Republicans 2-to-1.

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