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

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Latino Voters Break for Obama by Historic Margins, Many Motivated by Obama Policy Deferring Deportation of Immigrant Youth 

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

In Colorado, the new polling shows Latino voters supported Obama over Romney by an overwhelming 87% to 10% margin, the largest split of all eleven states in the poll, for a net contribution of 9.5 percentage points to Obama (based on Latino Decisions’ estimate that Latinos accounted for 12.5% of the total Colorado electorate). This contribution was larger than Obama’s total margin of victory of 4.3% in Colorado – meaning that the Latino vote determined the outcome of the election here.

Support for Obama increased over Latino Decisions’ two polls of Latino voters in Colorado in June and September, and peaked at 87 percent at election time.  In a number that might help explain the upward trend, 62% of Colorado’s Latino voters said they became more enthusiastic about President Obama after he announced a new policy in June to stop the deportation of immigrant youth, the highest percentage of the eleven states in the survey.

Patty Kupfer, Managing Director of America’s Voice, said, “The pre-election polls in Colorado showed a near dead heat between Obama and Romney, but Obama ended up winning the state by more than four points. We saw a similar phenomenon in 2010 with Senator Bennet’s race and the Senate race in Nevada. I can’t help but assume that Latino voters, especially Spanish-dominant ones, continue to be undercounted in most polls, and these are voters that lean more Democratic.” Kupfer added, “It’s unmistakable that Latino voters delivered Colorado for President Obama, and it may just be that Colorado was never as close as everyone thought because of the poor track record in polling this community.”

According to Robert Preuhs, Associate Professor of Political Science at Metro State University of Denver, “The continued and high level of support among Latinos for President Obama and Democratic candidates certainly contributed to a significant portion of their margins of victory in Colorado.  Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the results is the recognition by both parties of the importance of Latino voters to their success, as almost 60% were contacted by one of the major parties.  With 39% of Latinos contacted by the Republican Party and 75% contacted by the Democrats, Latinos and the issues important to them, including immigration reform, are apt to influence Colorado politics for the foreseeable future.”

Key components of the poll’s findings are below.  Latino Decisions’ Colorado numbers show significantly larger support for President Obama than the National Exit Poll, which estimated 74% Latino support for Obama.  In the 2010 Senate and gubernatorial races in Colorado, the National Exit Poll did not have a large or representative enough Latino sample to make any predictions at all about who Latinos voted for – meanwhile, Latino Decisions’ election-eve polling came within a few percentage points of precinct returns.  In contrast, 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:

Colorado Latinos Influence the Outcomes of National and Congressional Races

  • In the presidential race, 87% of Colorado Latinos voted for President Obama, while 10% voted for Mitt Romney.
  • In Colorado’s U.S. House races, 88% of Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate in their district, while 12% voted for the Republican.

Top Issues for Latino Voters

  • 50% of Colorado Latinos said that fixing the economy and creating more jobs was the most important issue facing the Latino community that Congress and the President should address.  This was followed by 34% who said the same about immigration reform and the DREAM Act, 17% who named education reform, and 16% who named health care.

Immigration Isn’t Just Policy, It’s Personal

  • 63% of Latino voters in Colorado know someone who is undocumented.
  • 80% of Colorado Latinos said that Obama “truly cares” about the Latino community, 14% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 2% described him as “hostile.”  Meanwhile,  9% of respondents said that Romney “truly cares” about the Latino community, 59% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 27% said he “was hostile.”
  • After hearing about President Obama’s deferred action policy, 62% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting for Obama and 4% 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, 5% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about Romney and 68% 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,” 24% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote Republican.

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

According to Jesus Altamirano, Regional Coordinator for the National Council of La Raza, “Colorado’s Latinos care deeply about the immigration issue, though the economy and jobs has been their top priority, it is an issue that is certainly close to our hearts—the majority of us know someone who is or was undocumented.  It is definitely an issue that has energized the community this election.”