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Who really won Florida's Cuban vote? Analysts disagree

Published Nov. 14, 2012

A claim that nearly half of Cuban-American voters favored President Barack Obama continued under dispute Monday, with one side claiming it had new evidence that it was true and the other insisting it was false.

FIU professors Dario Moreno and Kevin Hill reported Monday their analysis of tallies from selected precincts in Miami-Dade County indicated GOP candidate Mitt Romney won up to 59 percent of the Cuban vote. University of California Riverside Professor Ben Bishin raises a similar argument in a blog post here.

Miami Democratic pollster Bendixen & Amandi International, however, reported Monday its own analysis of the county's 48 largest Hispanic districts showed Obama won the Cuban vote, 51-49 percent over Romney.

The dispute involves competing visions of whether the Cuban-American vote has moved beyond its half-century-old support for the GOP. But while the two sides disagree on the numbers, it appears clear that Obama received more Cuban votes last week than he did in 2008.

Bendixen sparked the argument Friday when its initial analysis, based on exit polls of 3,800 Florida Hispanic voters and phone calls to 1,000 others who cast absentee ballots, showed Obama with 48 percent of the Cuban vote statewide - a historic high - and Romney at 52. Story by Juan Tamayo here.

Below is the Summary Memo of Moreno/Hill findings:

Mitt Romney under-performed among Cuban American voters in Miami-Dade County. President Obama won Miami-Dade County by an increase majority in 2012 over 2008. In 2008, Barack Obama received 499,831 votes in Miami-Dade County compared to 360,551 for the Republican candidate Senator John McCain. Obama's margin of victory was 139,280 votes. This year Obama improved his vote total in Miami Dade to 540,776 compared to 332,602 for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Obama increased his margin of victory to 208,174. In order words Obama won Miami-Dade County in 2012 by 68,884 more votes than in 2008.

The Obama campaign and several exit polls (Fox News and Pew) claimed that Obama improved his showing in Miami-Dade County by winning the Cuban American poll 49% to 47%. Bendixen & Amandi International, a Democratic polling firm that has worked for Obama, found a slightly different but still significant breakdown of Cuban-American support, with 48 percent for Obama and 52 percent for Romney. While, there is little doubt that Obama improved his showing among Cuban American voters from the 36% he received in 2008, we found the difference a little less dramatic.

Professor Kevin Hill and I did an ecological regression of large Cuban precincts in Miami-Dade County and found that the Cuban Americans voted for Romney 58% to 42%. This results includes the over 50,000 Absentee ballots submitted by Cuban-Americans over sixty in Miami-Dade County that were not captured by Fox News and Pew exit polling. This demographic is traditionally the most Republican demographic in Miami-Dade. There was a significant reduction in Cuban American support for the Republican candidate but not as dramatic as the exit poll found.

Posted by Mary Ellen Klas at 10:59:38 am on November 13, 2012