People vote with absentee ballots on site at the Miami-Dade County elections office, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Poll: Latinos show wide support for Obama but less certain they will vote than others

A new Pew Hispanic Center report finds that not only is President Obama favored by Hispanics by a 3-to-1 margin — 69 to 21 percent — but the Democratic party has made significant inroads among Latinos. When asked which party has more concern for Latinos, 61 percent say the Democratic Party, up from 45 percent in 2011. In contrast, just 10 percent of Latinos say the Republican party has more concern for them, slightly down from 12 percent in 2011. “We have been tracking this number for the past 10 years, and this is the highest number for Democrats in 10 years,” says Mark Hugo Lopez, Associate Director of the Pew Hispanic Center, the report’s lead author.

More than two-thirds (70 percent) of Latino registered voters say they identify with or lean Democrat, while 22 percent say they identify or lean toward the Republican Party. Among all Latino demographic groups, Hispanic registered voters favor Obama by two to one. This includes gender, education, preferred language and immigrant status.

Latinos, however, are consistently behind the general population when it comes to being less certain they will vote in the general election, says Lopez. Seventy seven percent of registered Latino voters say they are absolutely certain they will vote in November, compared to 89 percent of all registered voters in a separate Pew Research survey. Lopez says this gap between Latinos and the general public has been consistent in other election cycles, including 2008, where there was a 15-point gap.

Even with less certainty about going out to vote, Latinos recognize the importance of their vote. Two-thirds (67 percent) of adult Latinos say the Hispanic vote will have a major impact in determining who wins in November. Foreign-born Hispanics are more likely to say this than native-born Latinos — 72 percent versus 62 percent.

One of the poll’s interesting findings involves Latinos’ view of the economy and their personal finances. “There is a sense among Latinos that things are getting better,” says Lopez. “Latino voters are more satisfied with the way the economy than they were a year ago, and in higher levels than the general public,” he explains. Forty-five percent of Latinos are satisfied with the direction of the nation, compared to 28 percent of all registered voters.

About four in ten Latinos (42 percent) say their finances are in excellent or good shape, up from 31 percent last year, and 70 percent of Latino registered voters expect their family’s financial situation to improve in the next year.

In the 9 ‘battleground’ states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin — Obama holds a 65 percent to 23 percent lead over Romney. In the non-battleground states, the poll finds Obama has a 70-21 percent lead over Romney.

What are the issues of most concern to Latino voters? Education(55 percent), jobs and the economy(54 percent) and health care (50 percent) are the top issues for Hispanic voters. About a third (34 percent) say immigration is of personal extreme importance. Thirty-six percent said that about the deficit and 33 percent said taxes were very important to them.

President Obama’s deferred action policy definitely resonated positively with Latinos — nearly nine in ten (89 percent) of Latinos and 86 percent of Latino registered voters say they approve of the policy. Among Latino registered voters, 26 percent say they know someone who has applied for the program, and this goes up to 31 percent among all Hispanics. One out of four Latinos interviewed for the poll knows someone who has been deported or detained by the federal government.

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