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Tracking Poll Wave 2: Romney Gains Among Latinos Post-Convention

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Latino Vote MapBy Matt Barreto, Latino Decisions (Cross-posted at Latino Vote Matters): 

After a week in the spotlight in which many prominent Latinos took to the stage at the RNC Convention, the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll finds a noticeable bump in support for Romney and Republicans among Latinos, as reported by Pilar Marrero.  The question will be can they sustain it, or will the new found support erode after the Democrats get their turn in Charlotte.  In the second week of the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll Romney stands at 30%, up from 26% in week 1, and also improved his favorability from 27/55 (net -28) to 31/54 (net-23).  While the clear majority of Latino voters continue to support Obama, this is the first time Romney has managed to climb to 30% of the Latino vote in the 10 months that impreMedia/Latino Decisions has polled on an Obama-Romney match-up. [Jump to full results]

In addition to Romney, the Republicans may have made some small in-roads with their presentation of Latino elected officials such as Susana Martinez, Brian Sandoval and Marco Rubio.  The tracking poll asked, “During the Republican National Convention Latino elected officials such as Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Susana Martinez were given prominent speaking roles. Does this give you a more favorable or less favorable impression of the Republican Party, or does it have no effect on how you feel about the Republican Party?”  Overall, 21% said they had a more favorable impression, 7% said less favorable and 62% said it had no effect.  Although a large majority said the Latino RNC speakers had no effect on their view of Republicans, among those who did take this into account, we found a 3-1 advantage for Republicans in favorability.

Glass one-third full / Glass two-thirds empty?

While Romney made some gains following the RNC convention, the gains are relatively small.  After their best week of coverage in which Romney and the RNC got to dictate the message, and President Obama struggled for coverage, Romney still maintains a net negative favorability rating of -23 while the President enjoys a net positive favorability rating of +43.  And while Romney is inching towards one-third of the Latino vote, the data still suggest that close to two-thirds of Latinos (64%) plan to vote against Romney.

In looking at the question about perceptions of party outreach to Hispanics, the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll reveals almost no movement in the larger images of either party.  One week ago 14% thought the Republican party was doing a good job of outreach to Hispanics, and today that number is 17%.  Combined, 72% of Latinos think the Republican party either ‘doesn’t care’ or is ‘being hostile’ towards Hispanics, and that number that will take more than a 3-day convention to move.  As Governor Jeb Bush acknowledge during the RNC, Republicans need to stop “acting stupid” and “to have a tone that is open and hospitable,” if they want to win over Latino voters.

The Republicans believe their path to the Latino vote is through the troubled economy, a message they reiterated during the RNC convention.  However Latino voters may not share their views of who is to blame, and who can fix things.  Last week, the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll asked who was to blame for the current state of the economy and 68% of Latinos said the policies of the Bush administration, compared to 14% who blamed Obama.  This week we asked, “thinking about the future of our economy, which party do you trust more to make the right decisions and improve our economic conditions?”  Here, 59% of Latinos said they trust Obama and the Democrats compared to 30% who said Romney and the Republicans.  In courting Latinos, the Republicans need to do more than point the finger at Obama, they need to provide a clear policy alternative that does not sound like “Bush tax cuts” that would seem to benefit the Latino community.  To this point, Latinos continue to give the Democrats a 2-1 advantage on fixing the economy.  Back in February 2011 the impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll asked what strategy was best for turning around the economy, and 57% said the federal government should invest in projects while 27% said we should lower taxes, a number quite consistent with the 59-30 advantage reported today, 19 month later on which party is best to fix the economy.