In the wake of (and throughout) the Democratic landslide of 2008 political observers were inundated with so much demographic data that it was wise to always remember the old adage; "it's not the quantity of the data, it's the quality."
So, throughout the next 8 days I will count down the 8 most significant (and under-reported/analyzed) numbers of the 2008 election.
#8. 31%-68% (aka the Latino exodus)
disclaimer: (this number is more significant than it's #8 placement on the list suggests, however, it has received a great deal of attention already from both academia and the media.)
A decade ago Hispanic voters were giving modest and reliable margins to the Democratic Party. Through half a decade of careful courtship George W. Bush effectively challenged the Democrats for this bloc, making slow and steady inroads. In 2000, the RNC nominee collected 35% of the Latino vote. Four years later the RNC nominee made double digit gains with this demographic and collected 45% of the Latino vote.
With the '06 midterms looming Hispanic voters were poised to be the newest swing bloc. Then came a immigration reform debate that put Culture Warrior Conservatives and Country Club Republicans squarley within each others sights. The oft racist debate gave pause to business doners and scared away thoughful latino voters. In the end only 29% of Latino's gave their vote to Republican's in 2006.
Was this abismal performance a temporary backlash against the harsh rhetoric of the GOP in a year where Democrats did better across all demographics, or the harbinger of a more permanent shift in Latino sentiment? We can now say it was the latter. In 2008, a borderstate RNC nominee nabbed only 31% of the Latino vote.
In five years George W. Bush move the dial 10 points with America's fasting growing minority population, but in three short years, the pendulum swung back ever harder, erasing the gains and digging an ever deeper deficit.
Of course, there is more to this story that the plight of the GOP. The historic inroads Democrats made with the Latino population in 2008 introduced a new electoral map calculus that puts as many as 56 electoral votes in the Democratic column (AZ-10, NV-5, CO-9, NM-5, FL-27).
It looks like a rising tide starts in the Southwest. Perhaps even in Kansas.
Tommorrow: 2-to-1. A new generation takes sides.