Latino voters still overwhelmingly identify as Democrats, according to a Pew Hispanic Center study released today. But many may not turn out to vote in the November elections: Only 51 percent of registered Latino voters said they will vote in the midterms, versus 70 percent of voters overall.
This could be bad news for immigration advocacy groups, which are hoping to mobilize Latino voters against candidates who support anti-immigration laws and oppose immigration reform. A July study from LatinoMetrics, the Hispanic Federation and the League of United Latin American Citizens warned that some Latinos who support immigration reform would stay home from the polls if it was not passed, but immigrant rights organizations hoped to see a spike in voter enthusiasm after Republican efforts to obstruct the DREAM Act.
Part of the enthusiasm gap appears connected to approval for Obama, which has been dropping since July. Although 63 percent of Latino voters told Pew they approve of Obama’s job performance, many seemed unimpressed with his administration’s policy action. Even among Democrats, 56 percent said they had seen no effect on Latinos by administration policies, while twice as many Republicans called the policies harmful as helpful.
Republicans face an uphill battle to win Latino votes: Only 6 percent of those polled said the Republican Party has more concern for Latinos, while 47 percent said Democrats are the better party.
So what can candidates do to woo Latinos, the fastest-growing minority group in the country? They don’t vote as a bloc, of course, but the Pew study does point out some trends in priorities among Latino voters. Education, jobs and health care were rated most important issues to Latino voters, with more than 50 percent calling the issues “very important.” Immigration is ranked fifth on the list of priorities — much higher than it is ranked by voters overall, who put it tenth in a list of 13 issues.
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