Latino vote leans heavily toward Obama

Posted: 11:07 PM EST Nov 08, 2012   Updated: 6:06 AM EST Nov 09, 2012

When it comes to the presidential election, recent polls suggest President Obama's win was fueled in large part by the Latino vote.

Experts say they haven't seen support this high for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996 when Bill Clinton won re-election against Bob Dole.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, which analyzed exit poll data the day after the election, Latinos voted for President Obama over Mitt Romney by 71 to 27 percent.

In Pennsylvania, the gap was even greater with Obama winning 80 percent of the Hispanic vote.

“There's been a change in the attitudes of Latinos towards the Democratic party and towards the president partly because of an improving economic situation but also partly because of changes in immigration policy,” said Mark Lopez, associate director for the Pew Hispanic Center.

According to the study, 60 percent of Hispanic voters said the economy was the most important issue, and even though immigration doesn't affect all Latinos, it's still an important topic.

“Obviously comprehensive immigration reform is much more of a potent issue for folks in the Southwest, but it still has become a universal Latino issue regardless if you're in that status or not in that status, it hits home to all of us,” said community leader Angel Figueroa.

However, voting Democrat hasn't always been the case.

In 2004 President George W. Bush won 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, and in 1984 Ronald Reagan also won by close to 40 percent, something Democrats say their party shouldn't forget while Republicans are asking themselves where they went wrong.

According to the exit polls 10 percent of 2012 votes came from self-identified Hispanics -- that's up an entire percent from 2008.