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Survey: more religiously-unaffiliated Latinos, less connection with GOP

The growth in the ranks of Latinos who do not affiliate with any religious ideology rivals the rise in numbers of Latino evangelicals, according to a survey released Friday.

The results also showed that Latinos increasingly view the Republican Party negatively and are more than three times less likely to say the party cares about people like them.

Robert Jones, chief executive officer at Public Religion Research Institute, said the growth of evangelicals among Hispanics has been well documented, but shouldn’t be considered in a vacuum.

“There is a corresponding rise in religiously unaffiliated Hispanics who rival the growth rates and size of evangelical Hispanics,” he said.

Among the 1,563 Latino adults who participated in the survey, seven percent said they were raised evangelical and 13 percent said they are evangelicals today, a six percent shift.

Five percent of the survey participants said they were raised with no religious affiliation and 12 percent said they are not affiliated with a religion today.

“If it were only evangelicals growing at the expense of Catholics what we would see is an ideological shift to the right,” Jones said.

Just 12 percent of the surveyed Latinos said the phrase “cares about people like you” better described the GOP.

“For Republicans, what’s clear on the data is that it’s going to take more than a rebranding to connect with Hispanic voters,” Jones said. “It’s going to take showing up and some real shifts in issues.”

On immigration, 67 percent of the survey’s participants supported a path to citizenship for immigrants living illegally in the U.S., provided the meet certain requirements.

Mark Lopez, director of Pew Hispanic Trends Project, said his research organization has documented a similar pattern in political preference.

“We have seen in recent years that the share that say Democrats have more concern has been on the rise,” Lopez said.

But Democrats face challenges too, Jones said. Less than half, 43 percent, of the surveyed Latinos said the “cares about people like you” phrase applied to Democrats. Nearly three-in-10 said the phrase does not describe either party.

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