Expanding the Map, Part 3

One of the potential benefits to Republicans of John McCain’s candidacy was supposed to be his appeal to Hispanic voters. After the GOP has spent much of the last 4 years trying their hardest to alienate the fastest growing block of voters in the country, McCain was supposed to be able to reach out to Hispanics thanks to his work on immigration reform.

However, based of Gallup’s daily tracking polls from May, that doesn’t appear to be the case. McCain is losing to Obama 62-29 among Hispanics, which dwarfs the 53-44 loss among Hispanics that Bush suffered in 2004. If McCain loses Hispanics that badly Obama would easily win states like Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado, with large Hispanic populations.

Even Texas could become close, depending on how much effort Obama puts into registration and turnout efforts in the Hispanic community. In 2008, Hispanics made up 32 percent of Texas Democratic primary electorate, compared to 24 percent in 2004. A similar increase in turnout in the general, if they continue to swing towards Obama by a 60-30 margin or so, could make Texas very close. That might not seem possible, given how big a margin Bush won Texas by in 2004 (61-38), but it is.

In 2004 Whites made up 66 percent of the Texas turnout, going for Bush 74-25. African-Americans made up 12 percent and went for Kerry 83-17. Latinos were 20 percent and went to Kerry 50-49. Bush also got a significant bump in Texas seeing as how he was the Governor of the state before he was President. Playing with the assumptions a little the state could easily be at least competitive.

Here’s what would need to happen to get a tied race out of Texas. First off, Latinos continue to go for 2 out of 3 for Obama, and increase their share of the electorate by 7 points to 27 percent. Secondly, Obama takes the Black vote 95-5 and there is a turnout bump there as well, to 14 percent of the electorate. Lastly, Whites don’t go as heavily for McCain as they did for the Texan Bush. Assigning McCain the same margin among White voters as Kay Bailey Hutchinson in her blowout Senate win in 2006, 68-30 and reducing the White share of the vote to 57 percent, which makes up for the increased Black and Latino turnout, you get a 49-49 tie in the state overall. Now, that scenario isn’t likely to happen. That big an increase in Hispanic turnout is very unlikely and Whites only making up 57 percent of the Texas electorate is probably even more unlikely, but a 60-24-14 turnout model would still yield a very competitive 50-48 race. Even the 2004 electorate would yield a 53-45 election.

Will Texas be competitive? Likely not. But it could be at least a marginal state if Obama is able to maintain his current support among Latinos and increase their turnout percentage, Texas is exactly the type of state that McCain could be forced to make a very tough decision about whether to spend time and money there or not.

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