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Yesterday, Latino Decisions and America’s Voice released the latest installment of their Latino voter poll in five battleground states (AZ, CO, FL, NV, VA). In an on-the-record webinar and press briefing, Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions and Frank Sharry of America’s Voice reviewed the most recent poll findings and demonstrated how a ground-breaking online tool (developed by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice Education Fund) provides a hands-on way for users to see how Latino turnout and candidate choice will impact the Presidential race.
As the poll results make clear, Democrats remain firmly in the lead with Latino voters, and have even expanded their advantage following the President’s highly publicized decision to allow young undocumented immigrants who came here as children to apply for work permits. According to Matt Baretto, Principal at Latino Decisions and an Adjunct Professor of political science at the University of Washington:
The battleground polling data shows quite convincingly that the Obama DHS announcement created a Latino enthusiasm bump. The question now is whether that can be sustained until election day.
Comparing surveys completed before and after June 15th, when the President made this announcement, Obama’s approval ratings on immigration shot up 16 percentage points and he gained 10 points in the overall ballot. The President wasn’t the only beneficiary of this bounce: the Democrats’ advantage with Latinos in a generic House matchup rose 10 percentage points following the announcement. Four of these five states will also see competitive Senate battles this cycle, and Democrats are polling well there too.
And that’s not even counting the influence of Monday’s Supreme Court SB 1070 ruling, which could help drive enthusiasm even further. As Talking Points Memo wrote today about the immigrant community in Arizona:
SB 1070 has been “very motivating to the community here,” Ruben Gallego, a Democratic state representative from Phoenix, told TPM Monday. Gallego too believes the Supreme Court ruling will drive Latino turnout. “There’s a lot of people and a lot of Latino community leaders, and they’re gonna use this opportunity to retake a lot of the hill that was occupied in 2010.”
Romney’s evasive response to the question of whether he would keep or repeal the DREAMer policy change, and refusal to comment on the substance of the Supreme Court’s decision about the Arizona anti-immigration law, have hurt him with Latino voters over the past two weeks. Romney lost 10 percentage points in the overall ballot, and enthusiasm for voting has shot up among Latinos—meaning he is poised to win a smaller share of a larger pool of Latino voters. After all, it’s not just the percentage of Latino voters choosing one party or another that matters; it’s also number of voters who show up at the polls.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director at America’s Voice:
The road to the White House in 2012 goes through the Latino community. Immigration has emerged as an issue that is mobilizing Hispanic voters and drawing a stark contrast that is benefitting Obama over Romney.
The Latino Decisions/America’s Voice Latino battleground poll was conducted in five important states—Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Virginia—and the state-by-state results are equally compelling.
Immigration was one of the top two issues in each of the five states, number 1 in both Arizona and Virginia.
While most Latino voters here have a direct and personal relationship to the issue of immigration reform (55% know someone who is undocumented and 30% know someone who has been in detention or deportation proceedings), voters in Nevada and Arizona are most likely to have that connection, with 74% of Nevada Latinos and 68% of Arizonans knowing someone who is undocumented, and 41% of Nevadans and 37% of Arizonans knowing someone in detention or deportation proceedings.
While Florida remains the Latino battleground state where Romney and the Republicans perform the best, half or more Florida Latinos still plan to support Obama for President and Bill Nelson for Senate, with sizable numbers of voters still undecided (10% in the presidential race and 18% in the Senate).
With national polls showing a very close election, Latino voters will be more influential than ever in 2012 in a variety of states across the country. While states in the Southwest and Florida are well known Latino battlegrounds, our data indicate that Latinos will be influential in Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and more in 2012.
For comparisons of Latino voter opinion before and after the June 15th policy change, as well as other data from the combined battleground survey and individual states, view: http://americasvoiceonline.org/press_releases/new-five-state-latino-battleground-poll-highlights-democrats-lead-growing-voter-enthusiasm/