Photo: Latino Voter Poll
The Economy, Immigration and Education are top issues for Hispanic voters an unprecedented Univision News – Latino Decisions Election poll of Hispanic registered voters and the general electorate finds the economy, immigration and education as top issues facing the community and outlines the challenges facing both parties ahead of the 2012 elections.
President Obama and the Democratic Party face challenges in recuperating 2008 voter enthusiasm levels that delivered roughly two-thirds of its votes in 2008 and which will be essential to Democratic hopes of retaining the White House and strengthening its position in Congress. On the other side, the poll also finds that Republican candidates for the White House remain largely unknown among Hispanic voters, while anti-immigration rhetoric could undermine efforts to make inroads with a key constituency, which shares the nation’s economic worries.
Two-thirds of Latinos indicate approval of the president’s job performance, but only 1 in 3 Hispanic voters strongly approves of the president, suggesting softness in his popularity among a constituency that were among his most ardent backers in 2008. In addition, 53 percent of Hispanic registered voters indicated that they are less enthusiastic about President Obama now than they were in 2008.
These attitudes could be driven by a general dissatisfaction with the federal government amid loud complaints from Latinos about high joblessness and a lack of progress on immigration reform.
Sixty-three percent of Latinos disapprove of Congress and while 61 percent of the general electorate is very excited about voting in 2012, only 47 percent of Latinos say the same.
In head-to-head ballot tests, President Obama retains a decisive edge over his potential Republican challengers among Hispanics. The President out-polls former Massachusetts Gov. Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and businessman Herman Cain by 2-to-1 margins, rivaling his margin of victory over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. However, the survey shows that the Republican candidates remain largely unknown. Nearly half of all Hispanic voters felt they were not sufficiently familiar to offer an opinion of Gov. Romney, 37 percent could offer no view on Gov. Perry and 53 percent for Herman Cain.
This suggests the possibility of fluidity in the support of Hispanic voters over the course of the campaign, which is further evidenced by the generic Congressional ballot test, in which nearly one-quarter of Hispanic voters remains undecided.
The survey finds that like voters everywhere, the issue of the economy is paramount. When asked which was the most important issue in determining who to vote for in an election, 65 percent said the economy, compared to 23 percent who said immigration, with education and health care polling at 16 percent and 12 percent respectively. Respondents also indicated support for policies broadly favored by Republicans, with 42 percent support for extending tax cuts to everyone regardless of income.
However, when presented a hypothetical candidate whose economic policies the voter supported but who used strong anti-immigrant rhetoric, nearly 60 percent indicated the rhetoric would make them less likely to vote for that candidate.
The survey found that a majority of all voters (58 percent) support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including 53 percent of all Republicans.
That number is higher among Latinos: 67 percent support an earned path to citizenship, including 64 percent of Republican Latinos.
A majority of general voters (62 percent) and of Latino voters (67 percent) believe that conditioning immigration reform on border security is a ploy to block action on reform.