February 8, 2008

Hispanics Helped Decide California for Clinton

By Neil H. Simon
Hispanic Business

WASHINGTON – A long Super Tuesday night rolled into Wednesday morning with no clear front-runner emerging on the Democratic side and a new shuffle once again among Republican contenders for the White House.

Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. and John McCain, R-Ariz., both won California and New York, but patches of wins and losses throughout the middle of the country left neither candidate in a position to end the presidential nominating contest that will now stretch deeper into February.

“Tonight you voted in record numbers, not just to make history, but to remake America,” Clinton told a crowd of supporters in New York just as polls were closing in California, the state with the biggest prize of the night.

McCain won in California that will reward him 171 Republican delegates.

Buoyed by Florida momentum, where McCain received a key endorsement from former Republican Party Chairman Sen. Mel Martinez and won the state, the Vietnam veteran won Tuesday in every major Hispanic population state, except Colorado.

The Hispanic Vote

Exit polls conducted by CNN and MSNBC in California showed Clinton received twice the support among Hispanics as Sen. Barack Obama — Clinton winning 63 percent of the Hispanic vote to Obama’s 33 percent.

When combined with Clinton’s support from Asian-Americans, who backed her by a three to one margin, Clinton’s Hispanic support more than made up for her losses to Obama among California African-Americans and, by a narrower margin, white voters.

With 13 million Hispanics, California has the largest Hispanic population in the country, according to The Pew Hispanic Center. But the Hispanic population is a younger one. While Hispanics are 36 percent of the California population, they make up only 23 percent of the voting age population.

Federico Subervi, a professor at Texas State University and author of “The Mass Media and Latino Politics,” said Clinton’s 33-point lead among Hispanics is a testament to her early establishment of California networks built upon leaders with community roots, some going back to her husband’s administration.

“She had the staff that knew exactly who to contact, who to lobby with, who to mingle with to get that grassroots support she has now obtained,” Subervi said. “She organized the base really early, and she’s now reaping the benefits of that.”

With 61 percent of California precincts reported, Clinton was beating Obama 53 percent to 40 percent in the overall vote. Hispanics helped Clinton elsewhere, too.

“Latinos came out for Hillary in droves,” said spokeswoman Fabiola Rodriguez-Ciampoli. “In New Jersey, New York and Arizona — You can’t win those states without the Latino vote.”

In Arizona, Hispanics supported Clinton over Obama 53 percent to 44 percent, according to the networks’ exit polls.

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