A new poll finds Latina women overwhelmingly support Barack Obama and Democratic policies over Mitt Romney and the Republican party. ( Photo: Getty Images/Olivier Douliery-Pool)

GOP’s Latina women problem: Obama leads by 53 points in new poll

A new impreMedia/Latino Decisions tracking poll shows Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has a really big gender gap issue when it comes to Latina voters. According to the poll, Latina voters favor President Obama over Mitt Romney by a 53 point margin – 74 percent to 21 percent. What is more, 88 percent of Latinas say they are certain to vote in November. What is driving these numbers might be answered by one of the key questions of the poll. When asked which party could be more trusted to make the right decisions on issues of concern to women, almost eight out of ten Latinas (78 percent) said the Democrats could be more trusted, versus 13 percent who favored the Republican party.

“Among Latinas, we find a 65-point advantage for the Democrats on women’s issues, perhaps the largest gap on any policy issue our polling data has ever revealed — this is very bad news for the Republican party,” said Latino Decisions political scientist Sylvia Manzano. Why this gap? Dr. Manzano points to several reasons.

Among them, “the hostile rhetoric about immigrants has been gendered — “anchor babies” is a slur directed at Hispanic mothers,” writes Manzano. Another reason, she posits, is that issues of concern to Latina women voters include affordable health care and DREAM act support, not necessarily the “women’s issues” like abortion or contraception, which do not rank high among priorities for Hispanic voters. This is further explained by the fact that for Hispanic women, especially mothers, increased health care affordability and availability and a priority on DREAM Act legislation are seen as economic issues.

“The idea that the economy, jobs, immigration, and health care are singular issues may not be so useful when we think about the perspective and experience Latinas (and Latinos for that matter) bring to these topics,” Manzano stated.

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Hispanic women voters are not just favoring the Democratic candidate; they are favoring the Democratic party. While Romney’s favorability is only 22 percent among Latinas, it is even less for Republicans in Congress — only 20 percent favorability among Hispanic women.

Among Latino voters, there is a marked gender advantage for Obama and the Democrats. For example, 68 percent of Hispanic women say they will vote for Democrats in the U.S. House, compared to 59 percent of Hispanic men — a nine-point difference. And while 61 percent of Latino men said they would vote for Obama, the number went up to 74 percent among Latinas. Conversely, 32 percent of Hispanic men said they would vote for Romney, but the number went down to 21 percent among Latinas.

Hispanic women are more enthusiastic about voting. Fifty-nine percent of Latinas said they were “very enthusiastic” about voting this year compared to 51 percent of Hispanic men. And while 81 percent of Latino men say they are certain to vote in November, the number goes up to 88 percent among Latinas.

Manzano writes, however, this is different from the “white gender gap,” which usually refers to men and women taking opposite positions on issues or candidates. “While there are differences between Hispanic men and women, it is important to notice that they are on the same side — since Latinos and Latinas are similarly situated in terms of their social and economic status, their political preferences and behavior is pretty much alike.”

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