tags: , , , , , , Blog, Uncategorized

Executive Action Matters: DACA Lifted Enthusiasm and Obama's Approval in 2012

Share This:

This year, if there’s one thing Democrats need from their base, it’s enthusiasm.

With elections just five days away, there’s a lot of speculation and analysis about how President Obama’s record-breaking deportations and failure to take executive action will affect voter enthusiasm. Gary Sergura, one of the principals of Latino Decisions put it like this:

There is no question that the failure of the president to keep his promise yet again is demobilizing Latino voters,” said Gary Segura, cofounder of Latino Decisions, a polling and research firm.

“There’s just no question in that. The enthusiasm rate has dropped. People are frustrated—actually, they’re more than frustrated. They’re angry.

Segura has no doubt that a number of potential Latino votes for Democrats will be left on the table as a consequence of the president’s delay. It doesn’t mean Latinos are voting for Republicans. And it doesn’t mean there’s a massive boycott (though at least one group, Presente Action, is calling for Latinos to leave the Senate box unchecked in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, and North Carolina). Rather, these votes left uncast nationwide can be chocked up to a lack of enthusiasm.

“It comes to Election Day,” Segura said, “are you going to get off the couch and stand in line? Are you going to ask your boss to get out of work an hour early when you’re really not that excited?”

Those are legitimate questions in the wake of the President’s not to take executive action. Segura’s firm, Latino Decisions, knows the impact executive action can have on voters. In fact, Latino Decisions was in the field in 2012 during the President’s DACA announcement and recorded the enthusiasm spiked in near real-time.

Prior to June 15, 2012, many immigration reform advocates had stated that the record high levels of deportations of immigrants under the Obama administration was causing some Latinos to grow weary about the Obama re-election campaign. In a Latino Decisions/Univision News poll in early 2012 53% of Latino voters said they were less enthusiastic about Obama in 2012 than they had been in 2009, while just 30% were more excited about the President. Overall, when asked what they thought about Obama’s deportation of 1.2 million immigrants, 41% of Latino voters said they were less enthusiastic about Obama, compared to 22% who were more enthusiastic, a net enthusiasm deficit of -19 points. The announcement on June 15 appears to have clearly erased Obama’s enthusiasm deficit among Latinos. (emphasis added)

After the DACA announcement, there was a consensus that the 2012 DACA announcement had a major impact on Democrats’ enthusiasm deficit among Latinos.

This week, we saw some polling from Pew Research which found a softening support for Democrats among Latinos. Their numbers are getting a lot of attention.

That same Pew survey “shows that immigration reform is a priority for Hispanics.” And, while Republicans bear the brunt, blame is spread around:

When asked who is responsible for the lack of immigration reform this year, Latino registered voters place more blame on Republicans in Congress (45%) than congressional Democrats (14%) or President Obama (20%). By contrast, among all Latinos, just as many blame Republicans (40%) as blame either congressional Democrats (15%) or President Obama (24%).

We’re hearing the same thing from our allies around the country who are working on the front lines of registering Latino voters that the President’s failure to act was a missed opportunity.

But, some DC pundits confusingly disagree,notably Aaron Blake of The Fix, who used the Pew findings to assert that the lack of movement by the President on executive action on immigration played a minor role in that drop. He even wrote, “Obama’s delaying action for a few months is being overblown.” So authoritative!

Oddly, Blake backed his findings up by pointing out how well Obama did against Romney in 2012, noting “Obama was running against a rich guy named Romney and emphasizing economic fairness, including his successful effort to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Polling regularly shows Hispanics care much more about economic issues than immigration.”

Blake surmised:

It seems more likely that something like that had a real impact on Hispanics’ views of him. This whole immigration thing is something of a secondary issue for Hispanics who already have legal status and the ability to vote.

Today, Aaron Blake looked at 2012 Latino enthusiasm but ignored the impact of Obama’s move on DACA or as he calls it, “This whole immigration thing.” Yet, just a couple months ago, Blake cited DACA as one of the reasons Obama’s approval rating went up in 2012. Blake noted, “You need to get results.”

That’s right. Voters want to see results. In 2012, Latino voters responded positively to the President’s move on DACA. That’s a pretty good indicator of what might have happened this year.Blake’s analysis missed the point about movements and voter enthusiasm. That happens a lot, especially with Latinos.

There’s still hope. Bold executive action by President could help re-energize the depressed Latino vote – and set the stage for 2016. America’s Voice and several of our allies are going to be releasing a 4,500 person sample Election eve poll of Latino voters next week. It will give a very clear picture of what happened in the 2014 elections and what lies ahead. We look forward to sharing the results.