Latino enthusiasm is one of the wild cards of this election. In 2008, a record percentage of Latinos reported high enthusiasm for the election, and their turnout—9 percent of the electorate—was critical to Barack Obama’s victories in Colorado, North Carolina and Florida.
Obama has managed to maintain his support among Latino voters, but for most of this year, their enthusiasm has lagged behind where it was four years ago. This summer, according to NBC News, Wall Street Journal and Telemundo, only 49 percent of Latinos were “highly interested” in the election, compared to 62 percent of all voters. Likewise, a Latino Decisions survey from the beginning of the year found lower enthusiasm compared to 2008; at the time, 38 percent of Latinos said they were more enthusiastic about 2012 while 46 percent said they were more enthusiastic back in 2008.
Since the Democratic convention, however, all of this has changed. Not only has Obama increased his vote share among Latinos—according to the latest Latino Decisions survey, he leads Mitt Romney, 69 percent to 24 percent, with 7 percent undecided—but Latino enthusiasm has spiked. Here is a nifty chart that illustrates the change:
Latino enthusiasm is upside down from where it was in January, with 46 percent reporting greater excitement for 2012 than 2008. It’s hard to understate the importance of this for November. At Romney’s current vote share, and with Latino turnout at 2008 levels, Colorado becomes a stronger bet for Obama, thus strengthening his position in the Electoral College. Indeed, the latest Colorado survey from Public Policy Polling shows Obama with a 6 point lead over Romney and 65 percent support from Latinos—a 4 point improvement over his 2008 results.
It’s increasingly clear that the GOP cannot count on an enthusiasm advantage this November. As was true four years ago, Obama’s core supporters are both fired up and ready to go.