Team Obama says Hispanic vote helps confidence in Fla.
New poll finds candidates 1 percentage point apart
If President Barack Obama wins Florida, it will be thanks to an increase in Hispanic voters, according to leaders of the president's campaign in the state.
One week before Election Day and three days into early voting in the ever important battleground, Obama's Sunshine State director Ashley Walker told reporters during a pen and pad briefing that early turnout among Hispanics is up 50 percent from 2008 due to an increase in registration and enthusiasm in the community.
She pointed specifically to the Puerto Rican population along the crucial I-4 corridor that stretches from Tampa to Orlando. Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist based in the state, said the African American and Puerto Rican populations in particular have increased in recent years.
However, a disparity has existed between the number of eligible Hispanic voters and those who turn out to the polls.
Over 12 million Latinos are expected to cast ballots this November, an increase of 26 percent from 2008, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Yet that figure is far less than the 23.5 million voting-age Latinos in the United States.
In Florida, Democrats have a registration advantage among Hispanics. Of the 1,551,000 registered Latinos in the state, 463,000 registered Republican and 592,000 registered Democrat, as of mid-July, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Elections.
Schale said there is now "more enthusiasm to vote," especially among the voting bloc that supported then-Sen. Obama 67 percent nationally in 2008. And Walker said an estimated 780,000 individuals have cast ballots to date, giving Democrats a 107,000 person advantage in ballots cast.
Team Romney conceded Democrats have an edge in early returns, but said the difference "is nowhere near the numbers that they need to run up to be in position for victory on Election Day."
A memo from the Romney campaign released Sunday pointed to a turnout increase in typically Republican areas and gains among independent voters.
A CNN/ORC International Poll in Florida released Monday showed the candidates 1 percentage point apart, and Walker said that's the "very nature of Florida."
"It's always a nail biter," she said, adding they are confident in the early voting and vote by mail numbers.
Therefore, neither campaign is taking anything for granted. The candidates, party committees, super PACs and other independent organizations have spent an estimated $130 million on advertising in the state since April 10, the unofficial start of the general election campaign.
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