2.17.2008

Young Latinos for Obama or Nada

Barack Obama may be attracting many young Latino first-time voters – but if he doesn’t win his party’s nomination, they may not vote a second time.

More than four out of five Latino first-time voters under the age of 30 who voted for Barack Obama on Super Tuesday say that if the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton, they will not vote at all in the presidential election in November.

“It’s like rooting for your team during the playoffs,” said one 20-something first-time voter, a New York Puerto Rican male. “If my team doesn’t make it to the Super Bowl, yeah, I’ll watch the game, but my heart’s not in it.”

For the majority of urban Latino youth, if Obama doesn’t make it to the November election, they’ll watch the returns on television that night, but they won’t bother to vote.

The week after Super Tuesday, my company, Hispanic Economics, was hired by the Obama campaign to conduct surveys of 655 Latino voters under the age of 30 who supported Obama in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Arizona. Rather than asking whom they would vote for in a hypothetical race between Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama and John McCain, voters were asked, “If Obama is not nominated, and in November it is Hillary Clinton versus John McCain, are you likely to bother to vote at all?”

When phrased this way, more than 80 percent of Latino first-time voters under the age of 30 who support Obama said, “No.”

This bodes well for the Republicans, since the nomination of Hillary Clinton, described by some of these Latino males under 30is “unappealing,”
“establishment,” “prehistoric,” and “bigoted,” could compel the much-vaunted “youth” vote to stay home on Nov. 8.

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Related: Age, Not Race, Splits Latinos' Democratic Vote (or as I see it, New Media Latinos for Obama vs. Telenovela Latinos for Hill & Bill reruns) Listen now