There's been a lot of discussion in the last week about the role of the Hispanic vote in next year's election. Here's the bottom line on our polling: Obama's approval numbers with Hispanics are down. But Hispanic voters absolutely hate the GOP field. And because of that Obama's winning margins with Hispanics would be as large or even larger than they were in 2008 if the election was today and they'd be one of the key groups propelling him to reelection.
On our weekly national poll for Daily Kos this week Obama's approval with Hispanics came in at only 50%. Yet on our last national horse race poll Obama led Mitt Romney by 38 points (67-29) with that group and against Rick Perry his advantage went all the way up to 43 points at 70-27. Obama won the Hispanic vote by 36 points nationally in 2008 so his margins over both Romney and Perry represent an improvement. Hispanics may not be enamored with Obama but they're a whole lot bigger on him than they are Romney (29/52 favorability) and Perry (16/61 favorability).
It's a similar story in Florida and Colorado, the two most pivotal swing states where Hispanics play an important role. In Florida Obama's approval with Hispanics is a decent +20 spread at 59/39. But his actual lead over both Perry and Romney nearly doubles his approval numbers- he's up 39 points on each at 66-27 and 65-26 respectively. Exit polls showed Obama winning Florida Hispanics by only 15 points in 2008.
Hispanics are really what's keeping Obama in the game in Sunshine State- strip them out and he trails Romney 49-43 and leads Perry only 47-46. But their overwhelming support is worth 6-7 points to Obama on the margin, giving him a 1 point lead over Romney and a 7 point one over Perry overall. Again the story here is a strong dislike for the GOP frontrunners- Romney's favorability with Hispanics is 36/50 and Perry's is 25/68.
Obama's building on his 2008 advantage with Hispanics in Colorado as well. He won them by 23 points last time but now has a 32 point lead over Romney with them at 63-31 and a 45 point margin on Perry at 71-26. Obama's doing well enough in Colorado that he'd be leading the state even without his overwhelming support form Hispanic voters but it certainly gives him a nice cushion. Romney's favorability with Hispanics there is 26/57 and Perry's is 23/51.
Obama's falling popularity perhaps gives Republicans an opening with Hispanics- but the current front runners aren't very well positioned to take advantage of it. Because of that Obama's likely to win Hispanics by similarly overwhelming margins to 2008 and that's going to make it very hard for Republicans in states where they are a key segment of the electorate.