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New Survey of Latino Voters Finds Challenges for Both Parties on Immigration

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Latinos Hold High Expectations for New Administration and Congress 

Latino voters believe that the Republican Party has little concern for their community, according to a recent survey released by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.  The survey, conducted by Latino Decisions on behalf of NALEO, interviewed 800 Latino registered voters from Nov. 7 through Nov. 14th in 21 states with the largest Latino voter populations, accounting for 93 percent of the Latino electorate.

According to the survey, only 8% of Latinos say they believe the Republican Party has more concern for the Latino community than the Democratic Party, while 27% of Latino voters chose neither party.  Unless the Republican Party changes course on its rhetoric and policy around immigration reform, Latinos who see themselves and their families in this debate will likely shun the GOP for years to come.

But the Democratic Party has yet to put a lock on this key demographic.   The NALEO survey found that Latino voters have high expectations for the incoming Democratic Administration and Congress.  Nearly 70% of survey respondents expect the situation for Latinos to improve under President-Elect Obama’s leadership.  These hopes are higher among immigrant voters, with 3 of every 4 indicating that they expect a better lot with Barack Obama as President. 

“The Republican Party is at a crossroads, and needs to do more to appeal to the Latino community if it wants to remain a viable national party,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.  “The results of this survey should be taken as an opportunity for Republicans to reach out to immigrants and seriously reconsider their position on immigration reform.” 

“Latinos have spoken at the polls in overwhelming numbers, and they expect the new Congress and the new Administration to deliver policies that are good for their families and good for all workers,” continued Sharry.  “The Democratic Party must show that it can solve tough problems by enacting common sense immigration reform.   Failure to do so could net very different results in 2010 and beyond,” he concluded.        

According to the rest of the results of the survey, 92 percent of those responding said that they had voted in the presidential election, up from 81.5 percent in 2004.  Immigrant voters made up a big share of the Latinos going to the polls, with 39 percent of respondents saying that they had been born outside of the United States.  

The increased turn out of Latino voters was a benefit to Democrats, with 72 percent of Latino voters saying they voted for Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), and 25 percent saying they voted for Senator John McCain (R-AZ).  About 61 percent of respondents identified as Democrats, while 17 percent identified as Republicans and 14 percent as independents. 

The survey also points to the economy as the biggest concern for Latino voters, with 67 percent saying that is the most important issue for President Elect Obama and the new Congress to tackle.  Other issues identified as a “top” concern include immigration at 6 percent, the war in Iraq at 6 percent, and healthcare at 5 percent.  Although immigration was not the single most important issue to most respondents, 68 percent said that immigration must be addressed within the first year of the Obama Administration.

To view the full results of the poll, go to http://www.naleo.org/downloads/Post-Election%20Survey.pdf