CNN today reported that President Obama's Florida team believes there's a direct correlation between Hispanic voter turnout and the campaign's chances in Florida:
"If President Barack Obama wins Florida, it will be thanks to an increase in Hispanic voters, according to leaders of the president's campaign in the state," CNN said.
"One week before Election Day and three days into early voting in the ever important battleground, Obama's Sunshine State director Ashley Walker told reporters during a pen and pad briefing that early turnout among Hispanics is up 50% from 2008 due to an increase in registration and enthusiasm in the community."
Here's what wasn't apparently mentioned: Obama's Hispanic numbers don't appear to be that rosy in Florida.
Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats, found that Obama was actually losing the Florida Hispanic vote 46-54 to Republican Mitt Romney. But it doesn't poll in Spanish, and the sample size was small. Two Mason-Dixon polls this weekend had mixed news for Obama. It showed him up 56-37 percent in the crucial I-4 corridor, but he was down 19-76 percent among Cuban voters in Miami-Dade. And they're amped to vote, casting about 44 percent of the 134,000 absentee ballots that have been mailed in so far.
Then there's SurveyUSA, which doesn't poll in Spanish like PPP, that showed Obama up over Romney among Hispanics in Florida, 58-32.
If the numbers are all over the place, there's a reason for it: The Florida Hispanic vote is not monolithic. Survey in one area (like Cuban-heavy South Florida or Puerto Rican-heavy Central Florida) and your poll can move right or left.
And the voter-registration data isn't so helpful, either.
Hispanics prefer the “no party affiliation” label to being Democrats or Republicans. Since 2008, the Hispanic voter rolls have grown 22 percent overall to 1.7 million, about 14 percent of the electorate. Hispanic no-party affiliation growth: 38 percent. Democratic growth: 22 percent. Republican growth: 7 percent.
So Hispanics prefer right now to be independents. And the polls almost universally agree: Romney's narrowly winning independents right now.
But polls are polls. And ground game is ground game. The best campaign will get its voters out. And it'll win, despite what the polls say.