Friday, October 10, 2008

White Voters in the South: Florida

This is the Florida section of our report on how shifts in the white vote relative to 2004 can explain most of Barack Obama's surprising success this year in the traditionally red southern states of Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. You can read the whole thing (with all the data discussed included in chart form) here.
isn’t seeing shifts quite as dramatic as those in North Carolina and Virginia. George W. Bush won the state by five points in 2004 and Barack Obama is holding a three point edge there in PPP’s latest poll.

The 2004 exit poll for Florida shows African Americans making up 12% of the electorate and John Kerry winning their votes by a margin of 86-13. That gave the Democratic nominee a 9 point lead among black voters as part of the overall vote.

This year PPP expects that black turnout in the Sunshine State will be equivalent to the percentage of registered voters in the state who are black, which is 13%. In our most recent poll Obama has a 92-6 lead with those voters, equating to an 11 point lead among black voters as a portion of the total vote. That’s a two point gain since 2004.

The Hispanic vote is also a factor in Florida. George W. Bush won their votes 56-44 in 2004 when they accounted for 15% of the total vote. That gave Bush a two point lead in the race overall based simply on the Hispanic vote.

Polls this year in Florida have been inconsistent as to which candidate is doing a better job of earning Hispanic support, but our most recent survey had Barack Obama with a 50-46 advantage among them, with their share of the electorate pegged at 13%. That gives Obama a pretty inconsequential half point advantage in the total poll. That two point increase for the Democratic nominee among Hispanics relative to the last Presidential election is equivalent to the extra boost that Obama is getting from the black vote in the state this year.

In 2004 white, non-Hispanic, voters made up 70% of the Florida electorate and gave George W. Bush a 57-42 victory, worth 11 points in the race as a whole. Add the two point edge he had from Hispanics that year and subtract the nine point disadvantage from black voters and it pretty much adds up to the five point victory he earned in the state.

PPP estimates that the white vote will again account for about 70% of the electorate in Florida this year. In our most recent poll John McCain has a 52-41 advantage. That gives him an 8 point lead among white voters as a portion of the overall electorate, equivalent to a three point gain for Barack Obama with that demographic in the state relative to John Kerry.

Thus Obama has gained 3 points among white voters, 2 among Hispanics, and 2 among blacks meaning his increased standing in Florida relative to 2004 is pretty well dispersed across racial lines in the state’s electorate.

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