Hispanic voters didn't just leave their mark on this year's presidential election. They decided it. Four states with sizable Hispanic populations that went for Bush in 2004—Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada—all turned blue this time around, adding 46 crucial electoral votes to the Democratic candidate's winning tally.
Obama's Hispanic vote grab is no small accomplishment. The growing number of Hispanics in the United States has occasionally led to tensions between them and African-Americans, whom they have replaced as the nation's largest minority. Ever since Hillary Clinton won nearly two thirds of the Hispanic vote in the Democratic primaries, the question has lingered: would Hispanics vote for a black president?
The answer was yes, for many reasons. First, Hispanics tend to lean to the left. In New Mexico, 60 percent of Hispanics are registered Democrats. Second, Hispanic voters are young, a boon for Obama. But the biggest reason may be the economy. Republicans won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 thanks in part to a booming housing market. Now that the housing bubble has burst, and with Obama offering more assistance to lower- and middle-class Americans, Hispanics made the same decision as most Americans: Obama '08.