Photo: Obama's Support Waning Amongst Latinos
The most recent poll of Latino voters reveals a continuing political problem for President Barack Obama, which he must address if he wants to get re-elected next year. The number of Latinos who are certain to vote for Obama in 2012 does not reach the level needed to, at this point, obtain the supermajority of votes the president needs to win certain difficult states, such as New Mexico, Colorado and other western states. The most recent impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll, conducted between late July and early August, showed this result.
Currently, only 38% of Latino voters are certain they will vote for the president next year. This number was 43% in February, when impreMedia/Latino Decisions did a similar poll, and it had increased to 49% in June after the capture of Osama bin Laden and Obama’s speech in El Paso reaffirming his support on immigration. As reflected below, the poll also found that only half of Latino voters are “very enthusiastic” about voting in the presidential election next year, while 26% are “somewhat enthusiastic.”
Gabriel Sánchez, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico and Director of Research for Latino Decisions, said that President Obama still maintains a wide lead in his approval rating among Latinos compared to the rest of the population, but the movement of the numbers and the lack of enthusiasm for voting could signal a political problem for the Democrats. “Without a doubt, as we can see, a majority of Latinos say they will vote for Obama, but will enough of them actually come out to vote?” said Sánchez. “In 2008, the Latino vote for Obama was 68%, and this time he will a similar showing among Latino voters.” The fluctuations of the vote right now, so far from the election, may not mean much for the final result. However, they are a sign for President Obama that he is losing ground with a group of voters he needs for re-election. “In certain states where the president will have a tough fight (to win the electoral college), great enthusiasm from groups like the Latinos is needed—a supermajority, as a way of saying it,” said Sánchez. “If he loses ground there, even if it is by a few points and with less participation at the polls, he could be in trouble.”
Latinos and African-Americans, among other specific groups of voters, were essential in 2008, providing supermajorities in key states and tipping the scales in Obama’s favor. A supermajority means obtaining a vote that is not a simple 50% majority, but rather 65% or more. Also, these voters need to be enthusiastic and come out to vote—just like the Republicans or conservatives who are trying to oust a Democratic president whom they have seriously criticized and tried to discredit probably are.
Matt Barreto, a professor at the University of Washington, Seattle and advisor to Latino Decisions, said that the voting intentions favoring Obama show a dangerous trend, since there is a percentage of Latino voters who are moving from the “strongly approve” column to “somewhat approve.”