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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Hispanic Vote, Immigration and the 2012 Presidential Elections

A recent poll from the Public Policy Polling reaches an interesting conclusion that has the potential to tip the 2012 presidential election.  For all the talk about how Hispanic voters are disillusioned with Obama, especially for his failure to fulfill his promise to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform, his numbers are even better than they were in the 2008 election.  According to the poll:

On our weekly national poll for Daily Kos this week Obama's approval with Hispanics came in at only 50%. Yet on our last national horse race poll Obama led Mitt Romney by 38 points (67-29) with that group and against Rick Perry his advantage went all the way up to 43 points at 70-27.  Obama won the Hispanic vote by 36 points nationally in 2008 so his margins over both Romney and Perry represent an improvement.  Hispanics may not be enamored with Obama but they're a whole lot bigger on him than they are Romney (29/52 favorability) and Perry (16/61 favorability).

So as the Republican candidates pander to their base, falling over one another in their willingness to vilify and demonize undocumented aliens, they are sowing the seeds to a Republican defeat in 2012.  Nobody in America is affected by our broken immigration system more than the Spanish speaking communities across the country, and no group of people understand the hardship and unjust effect of the recent spate of legislation targeting "illegals".  The recent legislation in Alabama, as it did in Arizona and other states, targets people who appear to be illegal, (i.e. people who look Hispanic) and it is not lost on these communities that the authors and proponents of these bills tend to be of the same political stripe as Mitt, Perry, Paul et al.  Not only that, but Latino voters are becoming relevant in some unexpected places.  According to the Pew Research Center, Hispanics make up 8% of the population of Georgia, 7% in Virginia and North Carolina.  In Indiana and Ohio, they make up 5% and 3% respectively, but those states were won by Obama with a razor thin edge.  While safely Republican (for now), Utah and Idaho have 12% and 11% Latino populations. 

Latinos are now the largest minority group in the country replacing African-Americans.  In Nevada, with their 20% of the vote, they made the difference in the reelection of Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, when his opponent ran an ad showing Mexicans in stocking caps menacingly climbing through a hole in a fence destined to steal your car or sell your kid drugs.  Estimates are that the Hispanic vote went to Reid by a 90%-10% margin.  In the end, the election wasn't even close.

The PPP report cites Florida and Colorado as two swing states that Obama needs to win to ensure his reelction. 

Hispanics are really what's keeping Obama in the game in Sunshine State- strip them out and he trails Romney 49-43 and leads Perry only 47-46.  But their overwhelming support is worth 6-7 points to Obama on the margin, giving him a 1 point lead over Romney and a 7 point one over Perry overall.  Again the story here is a strong dislike for the GOP frontrunners- Romney's favorability with Hispanics is 36/50 and Perry's is 25/68

Obama's building on his 2008 advantage with Hispanics in Colorado as well.  He won them by 23 points last time but now has a 32 point lead over Romney with them at 63-31 and a 45 point margin on Perry at 71-26.  Obama's doing well enough in Colorado that he'd be leading the state even without his overwhelming support form Hispanic voters but it certainly gives him a nice cushion. Romney's favorability with Hispanics there is 26/57 and Perry's is 23/51.

Now, to be fair, many observers are saying that a disillusioned Latino electorate will just sit this one out and stay home in droves.  But I disagree.  The Latino voters I know are a hardy bunch.  They have faced more disappointment and difficulty that anyone I know, and the stakes are very high.  What's more, there is a new generation of young dynamic leadership that are anything but ambivalent.  Then there's the big issue that Mitt, Rick and the rest seem to be unaware:  Of the 12-15 million undocumented aliens in this country, the overwhelming majority are Latino, and the majority of those have at least one family member who is a U.S. citizen. A voting U.S. citizen.    

So not that you need my advice, Republican candidates, but keep up the "boots on the ground" and "build the fence" talk.  Keep ranting about how the DREAM Act is nothing more than rewarding scofflaws.  Repeat the lies of the nativists and racists.  Do these things and alienate key voters in key swing states that you will need to claim the White House in 2012.  

1 comment:

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