A USA Today/Gallup Poll of U.S. Hispanics released today found 51 percent of Latinos identified themselves as Independents. Thirty two percent said they were Democrats and 11 percent Republican. It is worth noting the poll was conducted between mid-April and end of May (before President Obama‘s immigration policy change). Other recent polls have found Obama has increased his popularity among Latinos following his immigration announcement in mid-June.
The Gallup poll found that among Latino registered voters, 45 percent identified themselves as Democrat, 36 percent as Independents and 16 percent as Republicans. Nevertheless, the poll did find that after probing independents for party leaning, 60 percent of registered Latinos identified as Democrats, almost twice the amount that identified as Republicans, at 27 percent. Only 10 percent of Hispanics, when probed for party leaning, said they were Independent.
“We find the same thing in our polls, we have a larger share that say they do not ‘identify’ with either party,” says Sylvia Manzano, a political scientist at the polling organization Latino Decisions. “Latinos are not necessarily willing to say ‘I’m on your team,’ which is why they are still appealing to both parties as they try to gain voters,” she adds.
The poll asked all Hispanics – not just registered voters – whether they were born outside the U.S., and whether one or both parents were born outside the U.S. Almost half of the Latinos polled – 49 percent – were born outside the U.S. Of those, 60 percent identify themselves as Independent, making Latino immigrants the group that most identifies as political independents. It decreases among first-generation and second-generation Latinos to 44 and 43 percent.
Manzano says the lack of party identification makes sense, especially for recent immigrants. “Latinos today are not the same as those who were here 20 years ago,” says Manzano. “They have no legacy or connections the way, say, Latinos who identified with Cesar Chavez, or the United Farm Workers did decades ago.”
The poll found only 6 percent of Hispanics born outside the U.S. identify themselves as Republican, but this changes with first and second generation Latinos. Fifteen percent of first-generation Latinos say they are Republican and it goes up to 20 percent among second generation or higher Latinos. Over half of Latino immigrants, as well as first and second-generation Hispanics, identify themselves as Democrats.
According to the USA Today/Gallup poll, “while the GOP may make some inroads among Hispanics as they develop deeper American roots in the future, Hispanics are likely to remain a reliable Democratic voting bloc for years to come.”