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Poll of Latino voters puts Barack Obama way ahead

June 17, 2008 | 10:25 am

The latest national polling in the presidential race is nothing if not consistent -- most of the recent ones, including an ABC News/Washington Post survey released today, show Barack Obama with a four- percentage-point lead over John McCain among registered voters.

That's not great news for the presumptive Democratic nominee, given all the factors seemingly weighing against the Republican Party (most obviously President Bush's in-the-tank approval ratings). But Obama should be heartened by a new poll that focused solely on Latino voters in 21 states.

The survey, conducted by Pacific Market Research and political scientists at the University of Washington, found Obama's level of support approaching what Democratic presidential candidates -- until the 2004 election -- had come to count on.

Obama swamped McCain in the survey, 60% to 23%, with 16% undecided. The poll's margin of error was plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.

Hillary Clinton consistently walloped Obama among Latino voters in the prolonged Democratic primary battle. That caused some in the party to wonder about Obama's ability to attract significant support from this bloc in the general election.

But the new results put him within shouting distance of the 67% of the Latino vote that, according to exit polling, Al Gore won in the 2000 election. And Obama's goal, no doubt, will be to come close to the 72% that Bill Clinton won in his 1996 reelection (or, even better, the 76% that Jimmy Carter won in 1976).

Bush raised GOP hopes that the party was making inroads with Latino voters when he captured 43% of Latino votes four years ago, compared with John Kerry's 56%, according to exit polling. But the new figures indicate that the party has not been able to sustain that support.

More about the new survey, including matchups in specific states, can be read here.

-- Don Frederick