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Poll watch: Latino vote remains high for Obama

November 05, 2012|By David Lauter
  • Latino supporters hold up signs as they attend a campaign rally for President Obama at Sloan's Lake Park in Denver, Colo.
Latino supporters hold up signs as they attend a campaign rally for President… (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images )

President Obama remains on track to receive more than 70% of Latino votes and perhaps win a record-high share, according to the final weekly tracking poll by the Latino Decisions polling firm.

The survey conducted for impreMedia, the publisher of La Opinion and other Spanish-language newspapers, shows Obama winning 72% of Latino voters compared with 23% for Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Among the voters most likely to turn out, Obama had a 73% to 24% advantage.

The record high for a Democratic presidential candidate is the 73% of Latino votes captured by Bill Clinton in his 1996 reelection, at a point when the Latino electorate was considerably smaller. By contrast, according to Latino Decisions’ statistics, Democratic Sen. John Kerry took only 60% of Latino votes in 2004 in his campaign against President George W. Bush, who made reaching out to Latinos an important element of his campaign.

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The chief remaining question is how big the Latino turnout will be as a share of the overall electorate. Latino turnout has grown in each of the last several election cycles. If it expands again this year, the additional votes could be enough for Obama to capture several closely divided states, including Florida, Colorado and Virginia.

Some Republican strategists have projected that the Latino vote likely will not grow beyond its 2008 level because of lower enthusiasm for Obama this year. Among the Latino voters surveyed,  however, 47% said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than in 2008, compared with 30% who said their enthusiasm was higher last time and 21% who reported no change.

The poll also provides evidence of the continued damage that the 2012 campaign has caused to the Republican image among Latino voters – a topic of considerable concern among some GOP strategists. Nearly 6 in 10 Latino voters said Republicans “don’t care too much” about Latinos, with one-fifth saying the party was “hostile.” By contrast two-thirds said the Democrats were doing a “good job” of reaching out to Latinos, with only one-fifth saying the party doesn’t care and 4% calling it hostile.

Asked who was to blame for the failure of immigration reform to pass Congress over the last four years, 25% said Obama had failed to push hard enough, but 64% blamed Republicans for blocking the effort.

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Just over half said the prospects for immigration reform would be better if Obama wins reelection, with 4 in 10 saying his reelection would make no difference and 5% saying his reelection would make the prospects worse. By contrast only 10% said the prospects for immigration reform would be better under Romney, with just over half saying the chances would be worse and one-third saying it would make no difference.

Asked to name the two most important issues that the next president and Congress should address, 50% listed the economy and jobs, 42% said immigration and 20% said education.

The tracking poll, which involves a rolling sample of 300 Latino registered voters, has a margin of error of plus-minus percentage points.

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