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

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Growing Latino Vote in Ohio Breaks Overwhelmingly for Obama and Brown  

The 2012 elections demonstrated that Latino and new citizen voters are changing politics around the country and in states like Ohio, where their size and influence is growing. Newly-released election-eve polling from impreMedia and Latino Decisions – which surveyed Latino voters nationally and in eleven states, including Ohio – shows how the candidates’ positions on immigration and other top issues moved Latino voters and influenced the election results.

In Ohio, the new polling shows Latino voters supported Obama over Romney by a lopsided 82% to 17%, for a net contribution of 1.0 percentage points to Obama (based on Latino Decisions’ estimate that Latinos comprised 1.5% of the Ohio electorate). Latinos were similarly influential in the closely-contested Senate race, in which they supported Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown over Republican challenger Josh Mandel by a margin of 80% to 20%, helping ensure Brown’s victory and keep the Senate in Democratic hands.

Almost one-third of Ohio’s Latinos (31%) listed immigration reform and the DREAM Act as a top issue facing Latinos that politicians should address. Nearly half (47%) said that President Obama’s recent announcement halting the deportation of immigrant youth and allowing them to apply for work permits made them more enthusiastic about voting for him.  By contrast, 62% said that Mitt Romney’s campaign platform of “self-deportation” and his promise to stop approving DREAMers’ relief applications if elected made them less enthusiastic about his candidacy.

Latino Decisions’ Ohio numbers show significantly larger support for President Obama than the National Exit Poll, which estimated that only 54% of Ohio Latinos voted for Obama — giving him a margin only half as large as John Kerry’s among Ohio Latinos in 2004. In 2008, the National Exit Poll did not get a large or representative enough sample of Ohio Latinos to report any estimates at all of who they voted for. By 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. In 2010, Latino Decisions’ election-eve poll came within a few percentage points of actual precinct returns in every state it polled. More information on the methods used by Latino Decisions to complete the 2012 election eve survey is available here.

According to Richard Romero, a businessman and community leader in Lorain: “In Ohio, Latinos knew that we need to make our voices heard.  All that anti-immigrant talk made us feel that the Republican Party did not respect us.  We, the Latino community, took this election into our own hands.  We worked together to make sure we got out the vote.”

Hugo Urizar, from Cleveland, is another business leader who is active in politics.  He said: “Most Hispanics I talked to are very scared of the extreme right-wing policies of certain sectors of the Republican Party.  But, they also don’t want the Democratic Party to take them for granted.”

“While Ohio has fewer Latino voters than, say, Nevada, they were a crucial part of Obama’s win this year.  If the Republican Party intends to remain viable in future elections, it must change its stance and tone on immigration reform,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund and a Cleveland-area resident.

Among the poll’s findings:

Ohio Latinos Influence the Outcomes of National and State Races

  • In the presidential race, 82% of Ohio Latinos voted for President Obama, while 17% voted for Mitt Romney.
  • In the U.S. Senate race, 80% of Ohio Latinos voted for Sherrod Brown, while 20% voted for Josh Mandel.
  • In Ohio’s U.S. House races, 80% of Latinos voted for the Democratic candidate in their district, while 20% voted for the Republican.

Top Issues for Latino Voters

  • 54% of Ohio 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 31% who said the same about immigration reform and the DREAM Act, 13% who said health care, and 12% who said education reform.

Immigration Isn’t Just Policy, It’s Personal

  • 40% of Latinos in Ohio know someone who is undocumented.
  • 71% of Ohio Latinos said that Obama “truly cares” about the Latino community, 21% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 2% said he “was being hostile.”  Meanwhile,  13% of respondents said that Romney “truly cares” about the Latino community, 57% said he “didn’t care too much,” and 20% said he “was being hostile.”
  • After hearing about President Obama’s deferred action policy, 47% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting for Obama and 8% 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, 3% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about Romney and 62% 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,” 26% of respondents said they would be more likely to vote Republican.

For the full results from Ohio, other battleground states, and the national poll, click http://dl.dropbox.com/u/44794321/Latino_Election_Eve_Poll_By_state.pdf.