A new poll of Hispanic registered voters finds President Barack Obama has widened his lead among Latino voters. (Photo/Getty Images )

Obama widens lead among Latinos and Latino independents, says new poll

President Barack Obama has widened his lead among Latino registered voters, especially after his new policy directive toward “Dreamers,” according to a new Latino Decisions national poll commissioned by the progressive Center for American Progress Action Fund, and the immigration reform advocacy group America’s Voice.  Obama now leads 70 percent to 22 percent against the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. According to Latino Decisions, this is the first time in 20 months that Obama gets 70 percent of the Latino vote in one of their polls.

Among U.S.-born Latinos, Obama leads Romney 69 percent to 25 percent.  Among foreign-born, naturalized citizens, Obama leads 72 percent to 19 percent.  Among English-dominant Hispanics, voters prefer Obama to Romney 66 percent to 28 percent, and among Spanish-dominant Latinos, the numbers are even higher for Obama, at 76 percent to 15 percent. In 13 “battleground” states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina, 71 percent of Hispanic voters lean heavily toward Obama.

The national poll interviewed over 500 Latino registered voters across 50 states, using fully bilingual pollsters.

Two findings are of concern for Mitt Romney, according to the poll’s authors.  Sixty percent of Latino independents, which are usually the “swing voters,” say they plan to vote for Obama.  Moreover, thirteen percent of self-identified Latino Republicans say they will cross over and vote for Obama.  In contrast, only two percent of Latino Democrats said they would cross over and vote for Romney.

“At this point, Mitt Romney really needs to focus on securing Latinos who consider themselves Republican and cutting more deeply into Latino independents,” says Latino Decision’s principal and political scientist Matt Barreto.  One thing Romney should not do, he says, is give up on the Latino vote. “I think there is a connection between Obama’s recent outreach to Latinos and his Dream Act directive and his bump in the polling numbers,” Barreto adds.  “The Romney campaign should take a lesson from this outreach and do the same.” He also thinks it was a mistake for Romney not to support the administration’s “Dream” directive, which he says could have softened his image.

Republican Latinos like Bertica Cabrera Morris, who is based in Florida and is part of the Juntos Con Romney Hispanic Steering Committee, says the poll’s findings do not reflect what she sees and hears on a regular basis.

“I have no idea where these pollsters are getting these numbers, but I hear more and more Latinos against Obama than for Obama,” Cabrera Morris says.  “People stop me on the street, people who are in business who have voted for Obama before and now say ‘this guy needs to go,’ that’s what I hear,” she adds.

Cabrera Morris is confident that the Romney campaign will increase its lead among Latinos.  “We have 11 percent unemployment and small businesses have many new taxes,” she adds. “We are working hard and making sure our message is out there.”

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