AP Poll: Colorado Hispanics overwhelmingly back Obama | VailDaily.com

AP Poll: Colorado Hispanics overwhelmingly back Obama

DENVER, Colorado Seven in 10 Hispanic voters in Colorado say they are voting for Barack Obama, a margin that could help make the difference in a state that has chosen Democratic presidents only three times since 1948.In an Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday, Obama led John McCain by 50 percent to 41 percent among likely Colorado voters. The survey has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.Among non-Hispanic whites, the presidential contest in Colorado is much closer. Forty-seven percent of respondents said they were voting for McCain, compared with 44 percent for Obama suggesting the contest is about even among non-Hispanic whites because of the poll’s margin of error.Some 16 percent of the state’s likely voters identified themselves as Hispanic. Of those, 70 percent said they are supporting Obama, and 23 percent chose McCain.”We need a change. We don’t need someone like our current president,” said Santiago Chavez, 45, of Fort Collins, who is voting for the first time this year.According to 2007 Census estimates, Hispanics make up 19.7 percent of Colorado’s 4.9 million people. That’s an increase of more than two full percent points from 2000, when Colorado was 17.1 percent Hispanic.”The United States is going down the tubes. We’ve got to do something,” said Mary Ann Sanchez, 59, a retiree and Obama volunteer.Obama also fared well among early voters. Fifty-seven percent of those who had already cast ballots at the time of the AP survey said they chose Obama, compared with 34 percent who chose another candidate.The poll also indicated Democrats could pick up a second Senate seat in this battleground state. Democratic Rep. Mark Udall led former Republican Rep. Bob Schaffer 48 percent to 36 percent in the race to replace Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, who is retiring.Udall also did better among early voters. In that group of 367 respondents, Udall led Schaffer 54 percent to 31 percent.Colorado voters said they trusted Obama more than McCain to improve the economy, to handle the financial crisis and to make the right decisions on health care all by about the same margin as the overall vote preference.The two candidates were closer on national security. Likely voters said by 48 percent to 47 percent that they trusted McCain more than Obama to “make the right decisions about national security.”The AP poll supports state officials’ prediction that this will be the first presidential election in which a majority of votes will be cast early.Fifty-one percent of likely voters said they had already voted, either by mail or at an early voting location. Another 27 percent said they would vote before Election Day.Last week, the Colorado secretary of state reported that 1.6 million of the state’s 3.2 million registered voters had requested mail-in ballots. Many voters cited convenience or fear of Election Day lines for their choice; others said they’re tired of the long campaign and simply wanted to be done with voting.”I’ve been ready for it to be over for a month,” chuckled Nancy Holton of Denver, who voted two weeks ago for McCain.Obama and McCain have campaigned hard for Colorado’s nine electoral votes. Colorado has voted for a Democratic presidential candidate only three times since 1948, when it supported Harry Truman. Lyndon B. Johnson won here in 1964, and Bill Clinton in 1992.Two years ago, Democrats took control of the governor’s office and the state Legislature. Also in 2006, Democrats picked up two congressional seats and now hold five of Colorado’s nine seats in Congress.Republicans still hold a narrow voter-registration advantage over Democrats, but both camps have been overtaken by unaffiliated voters. As of late October, state records indicate Colorado has 1.07 million independent voters, 1.06 million Republicans and 1.05 million Democrats.That breakdown was reflected in the AP survey. Thirty percent of respondents described themselves as strong or moderate Democrats, 29 percent described themselves as strong or moderate Republicans, and the rest said they were not in either party.Obama led among those independents, 54 percent to 37 percent for McCain.”It’s looking pretty good for Obama. People are just totally frustrated with the last eight years,” said Ron Markwood, 72, of Fort Collins, who has already voted for Obama.The telephone survey of 626 likely voters was conducted Oct. 22-26 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media.

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