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AFL-CIO Immigration Ads' Impact on Latino Voter Opinions

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The following is cross-posted from Latino Decisions:

A new survey by Latino Decisions finds that Latino registered voters who saw recentimmigration advertisements run by the AFL-CIO were significantly more likely to rate immigration as a critical issue, and more likely hold negative views of the GOP. The Spanishlanguage ads were aired in Denver, Orlando and Atlanta media markets during November and were critical of Republicans in Congress for stalling immigration reform.  The Latino Decisions poll surveyed a total of 1,000 Hispanic registered voters who regularly watch Spanish TV in the three media markets, as well as a comparison group of Latino voters who were not exposed to the ads. (See results in toplines and slide deck)

Overall, a majority of Latinos have negative evaluations of the Republican Party and hold them culpable for the failure of immigration reform to date. However, the recent ad campaign has had a noticeable and statistically significant effect on Latino voter attitudes, creating even stronger dissatisfaction with the GOP among Latinos who were exposed to the ads.  Voters who saw the AFL-CIO ads in the three markets reported 20 – 25 points more negative attitudes towards Republicans than those in a comparison group who did not see the ads. The findings suggest that messaging on immigration could well be a critical and effective tool to mobilize the Latino vote in 2014 with significant partisan implications if the GOP continues to stall or block immigration reform.

Overall, a large majority of Latino voters who watch Spanish TV reported seeing the immigration-themed ads in Denver, Orlando and Atlanta: 70% said they recalled seeing ads on Spanish TV about immigration reform, 58% said they recalled the ads were about efforts in Congress to block a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Among those who saw the ads, over 85% said they saw the ads multiple times during the month of November, suggesting the campaign was quite effective in reaching Latino voters.


According to the poll findings, not only were the ads seen by Latinos, but they caused Latinos to further view Republicans as anti-immigrant.  42% of those who saw ads in the three markets thought the phrase “is an anti-immigrant party” described Republicans very well, versus 21% who agreed with this characterization in the comparison group who saw no ads.  Further, this carries over to a general anti-Hispanic view of the GOP.  45% of those who saw ads disagreed strongly with the phrase “the GOP cares about people like me” contrasted to 19% who disagreed in the comparison group.


Further, 80% of Latinos who saw the ads said the anti-immigrant said the anti-immigrant statement by Republican members of Congress featured in the ads made them less favorable to the GOP, and 59% thought that such sentiments were shared by a majority of Republicans, not just a select few.  While 60% of Latinos in the comparison group said it was very or extremely important for Congress to pass immigration reform before the 2014 election, a resounding 79% of Latino voters who saw the AFL-CIO Spanish ads want to see immigration reform passed prior to the 2014 election.


The ads also made clear that it was House Republicans who were stalling immigration reform and this sentiment was shared by those who saw the ads. 73% of Latinos in the ad markets felt immigration reform did not pass in 2013 because of Republicans while 44% blamed Republicans in the comparison group which did not see the ads.  Not surprisingly 71% who saw the ads had a favorable view of Democrats in Congress and just 24% had a favorable view of Republicans in Congress.


Perhaps the most significant finding in the poll is how the ads have appeared to shape 2014 vote preference among Latinos who watch Spanish language TV.  Among those who saw the ads in the three markets, 69% plan to vote Democrat, 11% Republican, and 20% undecided.  Among those in the comparison group who did not see ads, 49% plan to vote Democrat, 29% Republican and 23% undecided.

In a previous report, Latino Decisions identified as many as 44 GOP-held House districts in which Latino voters could swing the results in 2014, including 24 in which Latino influence was quite strong.  What the findings from today’s poll demonstrate is that with an appropriate and targeted messaging campaign, the Republican party has a great deal to lose in terms of Latino support, which could have significant consequences for control of the House in January 2015.

Matt Barreto is principal co-founder of Latino Decisions.

About the poll.  Latino Decisions interviewed a total of 1,000 Latino registered voters who regularly watch Spanish-language TV in two geographic areas.  First, a total of 600 respondents were interviewed in the Denver, Orlando and Atlanta media markets where the AFL-CIO ran Spanish language advertisements.  Second, 400 respondents were interviewed in a national comparison group that excluded these three media markets.  Subjects were interviewed in Spanish or English at their discretion by bilingual interviewers and contacted in landline and cell phone-only households.  The poll contains a margin of error of +/- 2.3% for the full sample, +/- 4.0% for those in the media markets with ads, and +/- 4.9% for those in the comparison group.  Interviewing was conducted from November 22 – 30, 2013 by Latino Decisions. (See results in toplines and slide deck)