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Arizona and National Political Analysts, Immigrant Advocates Discuss the Politics of Immigration in the 2012 Elections

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New Poll from Latino Decisions Reveals that Immigration is Top of Mind for Arizona’s Latino Voters

Washington, DC – Today, at a live-streamed panel at the Cronkite School, Arizona State University in downtown Phoenix, political analysts, advocates, and community leaders from Arizona and across the country discussed how Latino voters and immigration reform will shape the presidential, Senate and House races in this state and beyond.  Latino Decisions principal Gary Segura and Arizona State professor Rodolfo Espino released fresh polling of Latino voters in Arizona, conducted by Latino Decisions for America’s Voice.  Segura is also a Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies at Stanford University.

In Arizona and at the national level, Latino and new citizen voters are changing politics.  With immigration topping the list of issues Latino voters want addressed to help their community in this new poll, it’s no surprise that Republican candidates who have embraced hardline positions are faring poorly with Arizona Latinos.  Just last week, after first declaring that a President Romney would not revoke work permits granted to DREAMers under the new Obama initiative, the Romney campaign later clarified that he would, in fact, end the program for future applicants.  According to this new poll, these types of positions are hurting Romney and other Republicans among Arizona’s Latino voters.

According to Petra Falcon, Director of Promise Arizona Action, “Latino voters are going to exercise their power not only this November, but in the years to come.  We’re looking for policymakers who will write laws that benefit our community members, not harm them.”

Among the poll’s findings:

  • Arizona Latinos Favor Democrats by Wide Margins
    • In the presidential race, 80% of Arizona Latinos said they will vote for President Obama, while 14% said they will vote for Romney and 6% are undecided.
    • In the U.S. Senate race, 75% of Arizona Latinos said they will vote for Richard Carmona (D), while 12% said they will vote for Rep. Jeff Flake (R) and 13% are undecided.
    • In addition, 69% of Arizona Latinos said they will vote for the Democratic candidate in their U.S. House race, while 14% will vote Republican and another 14% are undecided.
  • Candidates’ Immigration Positions Matter to Arizona Latinos
    • 68% of respondents said that immigration was “the most important issue” or “one of the most important issues” in their voting decisions this year.
    • After hearing about President Obama’s deferred action policy, 64% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting for Obama and 5% said that they were “less enthusiastic.”  Meanwhile, after hearing about Mitt Romney’s statements on “self-deportation” and his support for Arizona’s SB 1070, 8% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about Romney and 67% of respondents said that they were “less enthusiastic.”
    • Upon learning of Jeff Flake’s vote against the DREAM Act  in 2010 and his support for increasing “border security instead of trying to stop the Arizona immigration law,” 59% of respondents said that they were “less enthusiastic” about Flake, while 8% said they were “more enthusiastic” about him.
  • After hearing about Richard Carmona’s support for the DREAM Act and his praise of the Obama administration’s deferred action policy, 73% of respondents said that they felt “more enthusiastic” about Carmona, while only 5% said that they felt “less enthusiastic.”
  • Immigration is Not Just a Policy Issue: It’s Personal
    • 55% of Arizona Latinos said that immigration was the most important issue facing the Latino community that Congress and the President should address.  This was followed by 44% who said that the economy was the most important issue.
    • 66% of Arizona Latinos know someone who is undocumented, and 55% know someone who may be eligible for the DREAM Act.
    • When asked “thinking ahead to the November 2012 presidential election, how enthusiastic are you about voting in the election next year?,” 69% of respondents said that they were “very enthusiastic” about voting in the upcoming election.  In a separate question that asked “would you say you are more enthusiastic about voting in 2012, or that you were more enthusiastic about voting back in 2008?” 60% said that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting in 2012 than they were about voting in 2008.

Rodolfo Espino, Associate Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University, explained: “Latino voters in Arizona expressed frustration towards both political parties immediately following the passage of SB1070.  As we head toward the 2012 Presidential election, the feelings of frustration by Latinos have tilted more against Republican candidates and enthusiasm for Democratic candidates has moved up.  This has made the general elections in Arizona more competitive than many initially anticipated.”

Daniel Rodriguez, National Coordinating Committee Member at United We Dream, agreed.  “As immigrant youth we have realized the power of our stories.  Every day we fight for complete integration by sharing who we are as Americans without papers.  Most importantly, we are increasingly exercising our right, if not to vote, then to influence those that can vote, especially the Latino families and community to which we belong,” he said.

Rick Rodriguez, Carnegie Professor of Journalism at Arizona State University and former Executive Director of the Sacramento Bee, said: “These are interesting numbers. Only time will tell if they translate at the ballot box.”

Mi Familia Vota Arizona State Director Francisco Heredia outlined his group’s efforts to get out the vote and declared: “There is no better time for Latinos to vote than on November 6.  Voting is our chance to take control over what happens to our families and our community, that’s why Mi Familia Vota is doing everything possible to help and motivate eligible Latinos to vote on this Election and beyond.”

According to Bill Hart, Senior Policy Analyst at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, “Whether or not the Hispanic vote—the so-called ‘sleeping giant’—fully awakens in Arizona this year, there is no doubt that Latinos’ political impact will continue to grow along with their increasing share of the state’s total population.”


America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.