Hispanic Protestants Join Obama Bandwagon

The Associated Press ran a story on October 21st entitled “Hispanic Protestants Swinging Back to Democrats” ]Eric Gorski, Oct. 21st, 2008].

The article describes “a Hispanic Protestant defection to Democrat Barack Obama, a shift that could prove key in battleground states with large Hispanic populations such as Colorado, Nevada, Florida and New Mexico.” In states like that, every vote counts.

In 2004, Hispanic Protestants comprised about one-third of all Hispanic voters, and in that year Hispanic Evangelical and Pentecostal voters voted for George W. Bush.

But now, in 2008, the AP reports that

“A report in late July from the Pew Hispanic Center found Obama leading McCain two-to-one among non-Catholic Hispanics who affiliate with a religion – in other words, mostly evangelicals and Pentecostals.

Other numbers suggest a closer race. Gallup daily tracking polls from Sept. 1 through Friday show Obama leading McCain 47 percent to 43 percent among non-Catholic Hispanic Christians.”

Either way, it doesn`t appear advantageous for McCain.

“In 2004, exit polls showed 63 percent of Hispanic Protestants supported Bush. In 2000, that demographic group supported Democrat Al Gore by a similar margin. Hispanic Catholics have largely remained loyal to the Democratic Party, so evangelicals and Pentecostals are swinging the Hispanic vote.”

According to Samuel Rodriguez , president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference:(about whom I’ve written before, here)

had this to say about it :

“I find it powerfully refreshing, enforcing the reality that we`re not going to be the white evangelical community. We`re not the Christian right.”

Why is Rodriguez so eager to distinguish himself from the white evangelical community ?

“We will not be the extension of one political party and we won`t be exploited and used for victory and then ignored.”

Too bad conservative Republicans didn`t think that way, rather than having given a blank check to Bush all these years!

And this is interesting :

Rodriguez and others said the immigration debate that hit a fever pitch in 2006 caused the shift back to the Democrats.

“We blamed the Republican Party for the immigration reform debacle, and we blamed them for xenophobic rhetoric,” said Rodriguez, who added that he will probably vote for McCain anyway because Obama is too liberal on abortion and marriage. “That pushed Hispanic evangelicals to look at ourselves.”

The McCain campaign has a “national Hispanic advisory council for Hispanic evangelicals, “  headed up by Mark Gonzalez, who says

“The [Republican] party has a major job to do in terms of repairing the damage with the Latino community . Hispanics are very loyal. It`s a legacy, being Democratic in the Hispanic community. There is still a learning curve.”

It looks like Hispanic Protestants is another demographic the GOP is losing. Time for a new strategy?