Politics & Government

Obama is first Democrat to win Florida's Hispanic vote

Rose Pujol, a Cuban-American, pushed hard for Barack Obama's presidential victory. The Miami resident attended the Democratic convention, volunteered for the Florida campaign, and put up a life-size cutout of Obama in her Coconut Grove offices.

''He takes people from all walks of life and gets them behind him,'' said Pujol, 53. ``I wanted to be part of that America.''

Such enthusiasm paid off for the Democratic candidate in Florida's elections: the state's Hispanics voted for him in overwhelming numbers and arguably handed him his victory in the Florida victory.

Obama won 52 percent of the state's Hispanic vote, compared to 42 percent for John McCain, according to exit polls done by the Democratic polling firm Bendixen & Associates -- making this election the first time the state's Hispanics have backed a Democratic presidential candidate since polling of Hispanics began in the 1980s. In 2004, President George Bush won 55 percent of the Hispanic vote to John Kerry's 44 percent.

Polls indicate the state's Hispanic vote may be divided. On one side are conservative older Cuban-Americans, who vote reliably Republican, while on the other are younger Cuban-Americans and a swelling number of non-Cuban Hispanics, who tend to lean Democrat.

Evidence of the potential divide is the Pujol family.

Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com