Hispanic voters’ years-long ties to Bill Clinton could clinch the Democratic Party’s nomination for his wife Hillary, political analysts say.
On Super Tuesday, Clinton won 64 percent of Latino votes to 34 percent for Barack Obama, exit polls indicated.
In California, Clinton did even better, polling 67 percent among Latinos to 29 percent for Obama. Latino voters made up 30 percent of the Democratic electorate, nearly double their representation four years ago.
“Hillary Clinton would not have won had it not been for the margin that Latinos gave her here,” Octavio Pescador, a political analyst at the University of California-Los Angeles, told MSNBC.
Clinton took 68 percent of the Latino vote in New Jersey, winning with 54 percent of the overall vote. In New Mexico, Clinton’s narrow 49 percent-to-48 percent lead over Obama was aided by her 56 percent support among Latino voters.
Even in Obama’s home state of Illinois, which he won with 65 percent of the vote, Latinos split their support, choosing Obama by only 50 percent to 49 percent.
“In exit polls, Latino Democrats gave Obama high marks for his leadership qualities and the freshness of his ideas, but even though they said they would back him in the general election should he win the Democratic nomination, they gave their votes in the primaries and caucuses to Clinton,” MSNBC reported.
Hillary had a 15-year head start on Obama in cultivating support in Latino communities due to the popularity of her husband, said Roberto Suro, a professor at the University of Southern California and former director of the Pew Hispanic Center.
Clinton also benefitted early on by lining up endorsements from a number of influential Latino figures, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Henry Cisneros, who as housing secretary was the first Latino Cabinet member.
All that could add up to trouble for Obama in Texas, whose primary is March 4. Latinos comprise a third of the state’s voters.
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