So far, polling has shown President Obama is suffering from an enthusiasm gap among his constituency compared to the GOP. But recent polls show this may be changing, particularly among Latino voters.
An ImpreMedia/Latino Decisions 2012 tracking poll released Monday, shows 83 percent of Latino registered voters report being somewhat or very enthusiastic about voting in the November election. Additionally, 46 percent of Latinos overall are more enthusiastic this year, compared with only 29 percent reporting greater enthusiasm four years ago.
“The trend is not within the margin of error,” says Latino Decisions principal and Stanford University professor and political scientist, Gary Segura. “It’s a trend towards solidifying support and enthusiasm for the president.”
He says this is an almost perfect reversal of their findings from last November, one year before the election, and a reflection of both the administration’s efforts on immigration and the GOP rhetoric during their primary season and its effects on the Romney candidacy.
The poll also found Obama leading Mitt Romney 69 percent to 24 percent, with 7 percent undecided among Latino voters. The growth in Latino support is 3 percent over the last week, and while this growth is within the margin of error, the trend over the last four weeks is “unmistakable and statistically significant” showing growing support for the president.
Segura says the Romney campaign and supporting Super PACs have messaged around the theme of disappointment Latinos should feel towards the president, particularly on immigration, in hopes of driving down Latino turnout.
“It’s the strategy of if you can’t convert Latinos, then drive down their enthusiasm,” he says.
Obama’s strategy, Segura says, has been to admit that people are unhappy and that his greatest failure was not enacting immigration reform, but then pivoting to who is to blame for this.
“If you say everything is wonderful people might get angry,” he says. “But he’s saying it’s disappointing but it’s not our fault and he’s pointed to the lack of support from Lindsay Graham and John McCain who bailed on immigration reform early in his term.”
Segura says he believes the turning point in the election was in June, when Obama announced his deferred action immigration policy, which would delay deportation for two years for eligible undocumented youth who would receive work visas. In June, the Supreme Court also voted on Arizona’s strict immigration law, SB1070, which Segura says allowed Latinos and all Americans to hear what the president and Romney had to say on the issue of immigration.
Looking ahead to the pivotal first debate, which only gains importance as Romney is running out of ways to change the poll numbers, Segura says Romney may try to employ a strategy political scientists call “gambling for resurrection.”
“Pundits may not be saying it but I guarantee you the Romney campaign knows he is losing,” Segura says. “So in the first debate he might try to throw something crazy in the mix, a charge against the president that he is unready for. The thinking is, ‘We’re losing anyway, we might as well try this.’”
With the election entering the home stretch, an increase in Latino voter enthusiasm could further signal that Romney, is in fact, losing.