Did Obama Need to Win Hispanics?

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Elections (and baseball) stat guru Nate Silver kicked off a wide-ranging blogosphere discussion yesterday when he asked whether Republicans can sacrifice the Hispanic vote (presumably by stepping up anti-immigrant, anti-NAFTA rhetoric and bashing Sonia Sotomayor) and still win elections. He said “si pueden“:

If you could gain ground in the Midwest or the South by pursing an anti-immigrant, anti-NAFTA, “America First” sort of platform, you really wouldn’t be putting all that much at risk by losing further ground among Latinos. Yes, you could make life (much) harder for yourself if you screwed up Florida or put Arizona into play in the process, but it’s not a bad strategy, all things considered.

About half the Hispanics in the United States reside in California or Texas, and another 20 percent are in New York, New Jersey or Illinois, none of which look to be competitive in 2012. (Yes, the Republicans could lose Texas, but probably only in a landslide). There just aren’t that many Hispanic voters near the electoral tipping point.

On Friday, statistician Andrew Gelman advanced the discussion by analyzing the Latino vote’s impact on President Barack Obama’s election win. He says “the removal of the Hispanic vote wouldn’t have changed the election outcome in any state.” Check out the proof.

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