Latino support was critical for Obama in four 2008 swing states he won that will now have a combined 46 electors: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico. As Latino Decisions’ Matt Barreto points out, if Obama holds all four states in 2012, he can afford to lose North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia from his 2008 coalition and still win re-election so long as he carries every state both he and John Kerry did. In fact, thanks to added electors in the Southwestern states, Obama can squeak by with 272 electors even if he loses Florida too.
To win re-election, President Obama must close the sale again with Latinos during the next two years. But if recent numbers from Public Policy Polling in key swing states are any indication, at least in potential head-to-head matchups against Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and (most especially) Sarah Palin, Obama is in as good a shape if not better in all four of Latino-pivotal swing states.
Beyond Obama’s fate, in general if Republican candidates in statewide contests for governor or U.S. Senate in heavily-Latino states can maintain support in the mid-40s, the Democrats are in deep trouble. This is especially true in states where the African American and/or Asian populations are small—such as in the Southwest—because there the GOP’s white voter advantage is sufficient to win statewide.