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Latino Voters Could Cost The GOP The White House And The Senate

Latino Decisions is out with several polls that show some interesting, and for Mitt Romney potentially dangerous, things about the impact of the Latino vote at the state level. First up, there’s Arizona where the split between the President and Romney mirrors that for the nation as a whole:

New polling data out of Arizona released by America’s Voice and Latino Decisions suggests Arizona may be much closer than the polling averages indicate.  A full 80% of Latinos say they plan to vote for Obama, compared to just 14% for Romney, and Latino enthusiasm is much, much higher in Arizona than the national average.  In Latino Decisions national tracking poll 34% of Latinos say they are more excited about voting in 2012 while 36% say they were more excited back in 2008.  In Arizona 60% are more enthusiastic in 2012 compared to just 16% who were more enthused in 2008.  In October and November 2010 Latino Decisions polling in Nevada was picking up similar trends in Nevada, leading then Washington Post columnist Edward Schumacher-Matos to note on Election Day before the polls closed: “As the Western returns come in tonight, look out for the possibility of a Latino surprise.  For the Democrats, a high Latino turnout could possibly save Harry Reid in Nevada.”

If Latino turnout is high in Arizona this year, it will be the Nevada of 2012 that takes the mainstream media by surprise.

Here are the numbers:

  • In the presidential race, 80% of Arizona Latinos said they will vote for President Obama, while 14% said they will vote for Romney and 6% are undecided. The largest vote share for Obama of any state.
  • In the U.S. Senate race, 75% of Arizona Latinos said they will vote for Richard Carmona (D), while 12% said they will vote for Rep. Jeff Flake (R) and 13% are undecided.
  • In addition, 69% of Arizona Latinos said they will vote for the Democratic candidate in their U.S. House race, while 14% will vote Republican and another 14% are undecided.

And immigration is a big deal:

  • 68% of respondents said that immigration was “the most important issue” or “one of the most important issues” in their voting decisions this year.
  • After hearing about President Obama’s deferred action policy, 64% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about voting for Obama and 5% said that they were “less enthusiastic.” Meanwhile, after hearing about Mitt Romney’s statements on “self-deportation” and his support for Arizona’s SB 1070, 8% of respondents said that they were “more enthusiastic” about Romney and 67% of respondents said that they were “less enthusiastic.”
  • Upon learning of Jeff Flake’s vote against the DREAM Act in 2010 and his support for increasing “border security instead of trying to stop the Arizona immigration law,” 59% of respondents said that they were “less enthusiastic” about Flake, while 8% said they were “more enthusiastic” about him.
  • After hearing about Richard Carmona’s support for the DREAM Act and his praise of the Obama administration’s deferred action policy, 73% of respondents said that they felt “more enthusiastic” about Carmona, while only 5% said that they felt “less enthusiastic.”

The issue with the Latino vote, of course, has always been the question of turnout. On average, Latinos tend to turnout at a lower rate than other groups, which may tend to undercut any advantage Obama has among this group. For example, Mitt Romney currently has a comfortable lead in the polling in Arizona despite his weak numbers among a group that constitutes nearly 30% of the state’s population. The Senate race is a lot closer, though, and we may see the Hispanic vote play a role there in what is an open race to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Jon Kyl.

Another state where the Latino vote could have an impact in Nevada, where a recent Latino Decisions poll [PDF] showed the President leading among Latinos 78% to 17% and the Democratic Senate candidate Shelly Berkley leading Senator Dean Heller 58% to 26%.  On the Presidential side, Nevada is a true swing state, with the race essentially tied at the moment although President Obama has shown a slight lead in some polls. On the Senate side, Heller has maintained a slight lead outside the margin of error but this race is still to close to call. In a state where nearly 27% of the population is Latino, Obama’s advantage among this voting group here could play a significant role in deciding where the state’s six Electoral Votes go, and further complicate Romney’s available paths to victory.

The situation is somewhat different in Florida, thanks in large part to that state’s large Cuban population. Because that particular group tends to vote Republican, a recent Latino Decisions poll [PDF] has Obama’s lead among Latinos at 61% to 31%, the highest percentage of the Latino vote I’ve seen Romney get anywhere. In the Senate race between Bill Nelson and Connie Mack IV, it’s Nelson 53% Mack 32% leaving a large group of 15% undecided. The Presidential race in Florida is, as it has always been, very close and it’s arguably the Latino vote that’s helping Obama here. In the Senate race, Nelson has had a comfortable lead for weeks now so it’s not clear that the Latino vote is playing quite as big a role as it may be on the Presidential race.

On top of all of this, we have the latest iteration of Latino Decision’s Weekly Tracking Poll of Latino voters [PDF] in which Obama is leading Romney by an astounding 70% to 27%.

It should be noted at all of these polls have somewhat higher margins of error than we’re used to seeing. For the national tracking poll it’s 5.6% and for the state polls it’s an average of about 4.9%. The main reason for this, of course, is that you’re polling a much smaller sample of the population than you would for a regular poll. For that reason, as I noted back in April, polls among demographic subgroups should be viewed with caution. Nonetheless, we’ve got enough evidence now of the Republican’s problems with Latino voters that I feel confident in saying that they are going to lose this group by a far wider margin than they did in 2008, and that it may well end up having an impact on the Presidential race in states like Nevada and Florida, as well as Senate races in Arizona and Nevada. For that reason alone, one would think that the GOP would begin to seriously rethink its position on immigration issues unless it wants to wake up one day and find that formerly solid red states like Florida are now drifting into the Democratic fold.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. jan says:

    ….again, it’s interesting that the major mathematical theme in democratic politics is division. Without inserting wedge issues dividing people according to gender, class and race, the dems have nothing to campaign on.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 19

  2. DC Loser says:

    This is why the GOP is so dependent on voter suppression to stay viable as a political party. That in the long term is a losing strategy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  3. Budgie93 says:

    @jan:

    Yes, because comparing groups of likely voters is “division”.

    Romney has a lead with men in the polls? SAUL ALINKSY!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Latino Voters Could Cost The GOP The White House And The Senate

    Definitely.

    The other way to think about it, however, is as follows: “White working class and middle class voters could cost the Democrats the White House and the Senate.”

    Is either scenario something about which the left wing really should be proud?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  5. grumpy realist says:

    @jan: sorry, I’m going to vote for the party that places more value on me than as a walking womb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  6. bk says:

    @jan: Yes, because in Arizona, the Democrats played the wedge game by allowing Jan Brewer to be elected Governor so she could be the face (along with her Sheriff Joe buddy) of intolerance and xenophobia in that state, thereby swinging it from red to blue.

    Where do you come up with this stuff, Jan?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  7. Geek, Esq. says:

    The Republicans’ model is to cater to a smaller group of people who regularly turn out to vote.

    The Democrats’ model is to appeal to a wider coalition that includes several categories of voters who are reliably unreliable when it comes to voting.

    The Republican model has worked better than the Democrats by a considerable margin. Democrats have won two elections–including mid-terms–since 1996. The Republicans have won 5 and appear to earning at worst a split decision in 2012, with a possibility of a clean win again.

    The Latino vote won’t be a problem for them until Latinos vote at the same rate as the rest of the population, especially mid-terms. For all the complaints about lack of immigration reform, well when you don’t vote in mid-terms you wind up with a bunch of anti-immigrant know-nothings getting elected because their base does turn out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  8. Geek, Esq. says:

    On the other hand, perhaps they turn out in higher numbers than likely voter screens tell us.

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/03/did-polls-underestimate-democrats-latino-vote/

    For example in 2010 it looks like Latino voters turned out higher than expected in Nevada.

    All the likely voter polls had Sharron Angle winning. The registered voter polls had Reid winning.

    http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/forecasts/senate/nevada

    For example, the Yougov RV figures showed Reid +3 but LV showed Angle +2.

    The CNN poll had RVs favoring Reid +4 and Angle +4.

    Result: Reid +5.

    So they may be an X factor that’s not getting caught in likely voter screens.

    By the way, the above numbers should scare the crap out of Romney. He probably needs to be ahead in RVs and LVs to pull that one off. And the Democrats cleaned the Republicans’ clock in new voter registrations this cycle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  9. Fiona says:

    @jan:

    Perhaps if Republicans tried to come up with a workable immigration policy, instead of playing off their base’s fear and xenophobia, they could make inroads with Latino voters. But the Republican debates showed that any candidate who even suggested a more flexible policy got shot down. Witness what happened when Perry suggested that the children of illegal immigrants be allowed to pay instate tuition or when Gingrich stated that he wouldn’t deport people who’d been here for decades, paid taxes, and had extended family and community ties. They were roundly booed by the audience and attacked by Romney, who then suggested that illegal immigrants self-deport.

    Likewise, the Republicans refusal to even consider the Dream Act isn’t about to win over Latino voters. The Republicans have shown far more willingness to demagogue on the issue than they have trying to come up with workable solutions. This stance is a far cry from the stance of Republicans like Reagan, Bush II, and pre-2008 McCain on immigration issues.

    But, of course, in Jan’s eyes, it’s the Democrats who are divisive. How wonderful it must be to live life within the Republican bubble. No doubts and a pre-made answer for everything.

    PS Jan–Obama’s numbers on enforcement and deportation are much better than his predecessor’s.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  10. sam says:

    @jan:

    ….again, it’s interesting that the major mathematical theme in democratic politics is division.

    Ah for Christ’s sake, don’t you ever, ever, ever tire of your own stupid? It’s the GOP that’s run off Latinos, and blacks, and women, and… See, How the Democrats Won New Mexico:

    Nobody covers up the reasons for the swing. Republicans admit it: They alienated Hispanic voters and they paid for it. “The reason that a lot of Hispanic independents and conservatives are so uncommitted is because the tone coming out of the [Republican primary] debates was so strident,” says Rep. Steve Pearce, who represents basically all of New Mexico south of Albuquerque. “They all got painted a bad picture. I’ve spent a long time with the Romney campaign on Hispanic and immigration issues. It was us who suggested that you ought to go onto Univision and speak to Hispanic audiences. And his tone was a lot softer. We get the tone right, and we’d be OK.” But it’s a struggle. “I love the Tea Party, but they’re hitting the gas on this issue.”

    Jesus. You’re hopeless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  11. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @jan: @grumpy realist: And it was the GOP’s insistence on allowing the social conservatives’ demonization of LGBTs that was the catalyst for my migration from the GOP to the Dems. Funny how being told flat out that you’re a second-class citizen by Team Red will force a fella into Team Blue. Who woulda thunk?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  12. Rob in CT says:

    Oh, Romney will never be able to convince them to take responsibility for their lives…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. legion says:

    @jan: Lemme explain something to you, Jan. These Latinos we’re talking about? They’re _voting_ Latinos. That means they’re _American citizens_. The Democratic Party has been treating them like citizens for some time now. The Republican Party has been treating them like second-class citizens for years now.

    In case that’s not perfectly clear to you: It’s the Republicans who turned this into a wedge issue. By being bigoted asshats. Constantly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  14. Republicans are going to lose because of the Latinos? Bah. That’s nothing a few thugs at the polls and some “lost” paperwork can’t take care of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  15. bandit says:

    @Geek, Esq.: The Dems outreach is to people who can be bought off with gov’t handouts,

    FTFY

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  16. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: I would love for the person who downvoted me to explain to why they think that I – a middle aged white male Certified Public Accountant with two jobs and a Masters degree, who grew up in a Republican household, but who happens to be gay – should support the current GOP.

    No amount of tax cuts will ever overcome the GOP’s positions that relegate me to a second class citizen. I value individual freedom and self-determinism so much more than a 14% marginal rate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Montana says:

    So Willard Mitt Romney tells us that he is a success, its easy when you start with Dad’s money and dad’s contacts (kinda like Trump) and did not do it on your own, but ok, success.

    Willard Milton Romney tells us that Bain was his first success, a company without a product (unlike Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison among others who created jobs by the success of their products). What’s even funnier is Bain owns “Clear Channel” who has under contract both “Rush Limbaugh” and “Glen Beck”, how do you think they will do after the election. Bain preyed on weak companies and their goal was to take these companies into bankruptcy (Willard still gets a check from Bain) not to mention the jobs that were outsourced or their dealings with RED CHINA, but ok maybe Willard did not know that Bain was in to that, sure, why not, right?

    Willard Milton Romney then tells us that his second success is 2002 Winter Olympics. All 2002 Winter Olympics financials have been destroyed, but ok lets take his word, success.

    This is Willard Milton Romney calling card that what our country needs now is someone like him a supposed successful business man. This “Business Success” and how that will translate into “Public Sector” success has already been tested in Massachusetts.

    But what did we see he was governor of Massachusetts, his one and only public sector job? If you look at the majority of his statements as to why he should be governor of Massachusetts, they almost mirror his current ones, mainly “I am a successful business man”. But when we look at Massachusetts, it was an ordinary mediocrity, to the point that he could only survive one term, that how good this guy was, but ok according to him he was a success.

    Did you catch his foreign policy chicken hawk speech, priceless.

    Now he wants the top public sector job, hmmm, no not on my watch!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Dani says:

    @sam: softer tone? He used tha racial slur “illegal alien” to refer to dreamers? Way would that make me? Legal ALIEN? I’m not alien I’m HUMAN. The sole purpose of this word is to dehumanized people! That why it’s so offensive. Yes it may be a legal word but so is the N word and people don’t use it in polite conversation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Dani says:

    softer tone? He used tha racial slur “illegal alien” to refer to dreamers? Way would that make me? Legal ALIEN? I’m not alien I’m HUMAN. The sole purpose of this word is to dehumanized people! That why it’s so offensive. Yes it may be a legal word but so is the N word and people don’t use it in polite conversation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. superdestroyer says:

    @Geek, Esq.:

    If blacks and Hispanics voted at the same rate as whites today, the Republican party would be totally irrelevant. Adopting a policy of open borders and unlimited immigration will eventually overwhelm the Republican Party no matter what the Republicans do .

    The real quesiton, once again, becomes how does the U.S. function as a one party state when more than 50% of the people who go to the polls automatically vote for one party and how high will taxes go to fund all of the entitlement programs that the automatic Democratic voters will demand?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  21. superdestroyer says:

    There are 100′s of million of third world resident who want to immigrant to the U.S. How many of them will the Democrats keep out in the long run. How does it help the middle class, the environment, the public education system, urban sprawl to have millions of third world immigrants come to the U.S.

    How do progressives the U.S. can have the government entitlements of the small, all white Nordic states while having open borders, unlimited immigration, and a population north of 500 million?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  22. Barry says:

    @jan: “….again, it’s interesting that the major mathematical theme in democratic politics is division. Without inserting wedge issues dividing people according to gender, class and race, the dems have nothing to campaign on. ”

    It’s been a looooooooooooong time since I’ve seen an accusation thrown by the right which wasn’t pure freudian projection.

    jan, you guys on the right decided that Latinos did not belong in the Party of Whiiii… People (with the Cuban exception, of course, and only so long as they voted right).

    Time for you to eat what you planted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Barry says:

    @superdestroyer: “The real quesiton, once again, becomes how does the U.S. function as a one party state when more than 50% of the people who go to the polls automatically vote for one party and how high will taxes go to fund all of the entitlement programs that the automatic Democratic voters will demand? ”

    THEY’RE IN YOUR HOUSE! LOCK THE DOORS! HIDE IN THE CLOSET! DON’T BREATHE!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0