President Obama nearly won the solidly Republican Cuban-American vote in Florida and rolled up huge margins with every other Hispanic group, according to an exit poll performed by a firm that also worked for his campaign.
Obama actually won Cuban-Americans on Election Day itself, taking 53 percent of their vote compared to 47 percent for Republican Mitt Romney, who built up a lead among those who cast absentee and early in-person ballots, according to the survey of 4,866 voters conducted by Bendixen & Amandi International.
So Romney narrowly carried Cuban-Americans, 52-48 percent, which is a decrease for Republicans when compared to 2008.
"Obama is picking the Republican lock in Florida," Fernand Amandi said, noting that Hispanics are Florida's fastest-growing segment of the electorate.
But some conservatives doubt the numbers, accusing the firm of under-sampling Republican precincts, which Bendixen & Amandi denies.
"Like every election cycle, Sergio Bendixen, who is infamously known for the inacuracy of his polls, is once again peddling inaccurate exit polling data about Cuban-American voting trends," Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates, wrote on his Capitol Hill Cubans blog.
But Bendixen points out that his bottom-line exit poll numbers mirror the figures from the exit polls conducted by Edison Reserch for the news media, including the Miami Herald, which found Obama winning the overall Hispanic vote 60-39 over Romney.
In Bendixen's poll, Florida Hispanics broke 61-39 percent in Obama's favor -- a one-point difference from Edison. Edison's poll indicated Obama may have won the Cuban-American vote, 49-47 percent, but the results were well within the survey's error margin.
Jim Messina, Obama campaign manager, highlighted the Edison results and pointed out that, in its surveys, the share of the Hispanic vote increased in the state from 14 percent to 17 percent from 2008 to 2012.
"We won a majority of Cuban voters in Florida," said Messina. "It's a dramatic realignment for cuban voters in that state."