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NEW POLL: How Arizona Latino and New Citizen Voters Influenced the 2012 Elections

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Latino Voters Motivated by Immigration Issue Mobilize in Unprecedented Numbers for Obama and Carmona

The 2012 elections demonstrate that Latino and new citizen voters are changing politics in Arizona and around the country. Newly-released election-eve polling from impreMedia and Latino Decisions – which surveyed Latino voters nationally and in eleven states, including Arizona – shows how the candidates’ positions on immigration and other key issues were pivotal in determining the election results.

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund, said, “The GOP’s lurch to the right on immigration destroyed their chances of re-taking the White House and the Senate. Obama leaned into the issue by protecting DREAMers, a move that mobilized Latino voters and did not hurt him with swing voters. As a result, the 2012 election is a game-changer. It produced a mandate for immigration reform.”       

In Arizona, the new polling shows Latino voters supported Obama over Romney by 79% to 20%, for a net contribution of 11.8 percentage points to Obama (using Latino Decisions’ estimate that Latinos accounted for 20.0% of the total Arizona electorate).  In the closely-contested Senate race, Latinos supported Democrat Richard Carmona over Republican Jeff Flake by an even larger margin of 83% to 17%, contributing 13.2 percentage points to Carmona.

Republican strategist Ana Navarro, recently said that “If Republicans lose Jeff Flake’s Senate seat in Arizona,” Navarro said, “I would say to [Arizona Governor] Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio that ‘you built that.’” While Republicans were able to hold on to Arizona’s Senate seat this year, the Latino vote is growing so rapidly and placing so much importance on the issue of immigration that Republicans should be on notice. If they stick with the Jan Brewer approach to immigration, they will hasten the turn of Arizona from red to blue, following the pattern of other states like California, New Mexico, and–increasingly–Nevada.

However, the Latino Decisions poll reveals that Republicans could still have a chance to court a decisive number of Latinos, if only they would shift their stance, and exert leadership on immigration reform. A full 38% of Arizona’s Latino voters said they would be more likely to vote Republican if the party took a leadership role in passing reform.  If the Republican Party wants to remain viable in national elections and Latino-heavy states, this is the group that they need to win.

According to Rodolfo Espino, Associate Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University, “We have seen Latino voters in Arizona consistently express immigration reform as an important issue that needs to be addressed.  This high level of concern was no different for Latino voters on Election Day, as many Latino voters were driven to the polls to vote for the candidates they thought would best address this issue.  Polling by Latino Decisions shows that 38% of Latino voters would be more likely to vote for the Republican Party if Republicans took a leadership role in passing comprehensive immigration reform.  But so long as comprehensive reform remains a dream, we can expect Latino voters to punish parties that fail to address the issue, which will hurt the Republican Party’s long term growth prospects unless it decides to finally change its stance on comprehensive immigration reform.”

Latino Decisions has been called the “gold standard” of Latino voter polling, using highly sophisticated methods to identify Latino voters who are extremely likely to vote and ensure a representative sample.  More information on the methods used by Latino Decisions to complete the 2010 election eve survey is available here.

Among the poll’s findings:

Arizona Latinos Influence the Outcomes of National and State Races

  • In the presidential race, 79% of Arizona Latinos voted for President Obama, while 20% voted for Mitt Romney.
  • In the U.S. Senate race, 83% of Arizona Latinos voted for Richard Carmona, while 17% voted for Jeff Flake.
  • In Arizona’s U.S. House races, 82% of Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate in their district, while 18% voted for the Republican. Democratic U.S. House candidates clearly benefited from the Latino vote in the closely contested 1st and 9th Districts.

Top Issues for Latino Voters

  • 48% of Arizona Latinos said that immigration reform and the DREAM Act was the most important issue facing the Latino community that Congress and the President should address, while 47% said the same about fixing the economy and creating more jobs. Following those issues, 15% named education reform, and 12% named health care.

Immigration Isn’t Just Policy, It’s Personal

  • 65% of Latinos in Arizona know someone who is undocumented.
  • 69% of Arizona Latinos said that Obama “truly cares” about the Latino community, 22% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 3% described him as “hostile.”  Meanwhile, 14% of respondents said that Romney “truly cares” about the Latino community, 58% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 18% said he “was hostile.”
  • After hearing about President Obama’s deferred action policy, 59% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting for Obama and 9% said that they were “less enthusiastic.”  Meanwhile, after hearing about Mitt Romney’s campaign platform of “self-deportation” and learning that he would not revoke deferred action for DREAMers whose applications are approved under Obama but would stop approving new applications once he is elected, 7% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about Romney and 56% of respondents said that they were “less enthusiastic.”
  • If the Republican Party “took a leadership role in supporting comprehensive immigration reform, with an eventual pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Republicans worked to ensure it would pass,” 38% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote Republican and 11% said they would be less likely.

For the full results from Arizona, other battleground states, and the national poll, click http://www.latinodecisions.com/2012-election-eve-polls/.