Heading into the homestretch of the neck-and-neck race for the White House, President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney are both seeking any advantage they can get. While the Latino electorate could be decisive on November 6th, a pair of recently released polls showed that both candidates have some serious problems to overcome if they wish to capture the so-called “Latino vote.”
A poll from the Pew Hispanic Center published last Thursday found that most Latinos with religious affiliations back the president over the former Massachusetts governor.
The poll found that 50% of Latino evangelicals support Obama compared to 39% for Romney. For Latinos who identify themselves as Protestants 55% back Obama while 33% favor Romney. The gap between both candidates is noticeably larger among Catholic Latinos (73% Obama vs. 19% Romney) and religiously unaffiliated Latinos (82% Obama vs. 7% Romney).
Numerous evangelical organizations and prominent activists such as Ralph Reed have mobilized “massive” registration and get-out-the-vote efforts in favor of the Romney campaign. Furthermore, the Pew poll showed that Latino evangelicals share the position of most evangelicals opposed to same sex marriage. Yet it appears as if the GOP’s stance on immigration (especially during the presidential primaries) have discouraged some evangelical Latinos.
According to a May article from The Economist:
(Gabriel) Salguero calls this “a political error in judgment”—a politic way of saying it is electoral suicide as far as Latinos are concerned, since 90% of them support the DREAM Act. The National Latino Evangelical Coalition, which he heads, is organizing a voter-registration campaign, “Nuestro Futuro” (Our Future), centered on poverty, immigration reform and education funding…
To Democrats these may be issues of fairness, or equity, or, as Mr. Obama frequently says, of government doing for people only what they cannot do better for themselves. To Latino evangelicals, says Mr. Salguero, caring for the poor and “the stranger among us” are moral and religious issues, and collectively they trump similar issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, on which they might find common ground with white evangelicals.In the meantime, Obama’s sizeable advantage among Latino voters has grown according to the latest Latino Decisions/ImpreMedia (LD/IM) tracking poll. Despite such strong support (71% Obama vs. 20% Romney), he continues to face the challenge of lukewarm Latino voter enthusiasm.
According to the LD/IM survey 56% of Latinos are “very enthusiastic” about voting in this election, which is a 5% jump compared to last week. Yet the number of respondents who claim that they are “somewhat enthusiastic” continues to decline from 35% three weeks ago to 27% in the most recent poll, while those who claim that they’re “not too enthusiastic” have increased slightly over the past few weeks.
In contrast to the national level the silver lining for the president may be strong Latino voter enthusiasm in several key battleground states. A poll released earlier this month concluded that 68% to 70% of Latino voters in Arizona, Nevada, Colorado and Florida were “very enthusiastic” about participating in next month’s election.
Video Source– YouTube via Voice of America
Online Sources – Pew Forum, The Economist, Huffington Post, ABC News, Latino Decisions