(President Barack Obama waves to supporters on his arrival at Boeing Field Tuesday, July 24, 2012, in Seattle. Obama is scheduled to attend a pair of campaign fund-raisers in the area. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson))

Latino support for President Obama holds steady

President Barack Obama remains broadly popular with Hispanics, a key voting bloc in this fall’s election, according to new data from the NBC-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo poll.

The president leads presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney 67 to 23 percent among Latino registered voters, much wider than the six-point margin the president holds among all registered voters nationally.

Hispanics are the fastest-growing group in the country, fueling their increasing political importance, particularly in several swing states. More than one-in-six Americans identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census, and they are an important pillar of the president’s hopes of winning a second term.

Click here for the full NBC-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo Hispanic oversample.

But while Obama continues to lead among Latinos by similar margins to what he won in 2008, there are indications that Latinos’ intensity continues to be lacking.

To measure enthusiasm, the pollsters asked respondents to say how interested they are in this November’s contest, on a scale of one to 10. Adding up the 8s, 9s, and 10s gives a good measure of who the most likely voters will be this fall.

By that measure, just 68 percent of Latinos put themselves in this high-interest category – similar to what they reported last month – off from the average of 79 percent of all respondents in the poll.

One glimmer of hope for the Obama campaign is that the number of Hispanics calling themselves 10s has gone up six points from last month. But even that number is down 10 points from where it was in July 2008.

A big reason Hispanics favor Obama by such a wide margin is a shared philosophy. On every category asked – from looking out for the middle class to dealing with immigration or the economy – Latinos say Obama would be better than Romney by much wider margins than all respondents.

In fact, on handling of the economy, all respondents give President Obama just a 44 percent approval rating. But, among Hispanics, it’s 58 percent. And they think Obama would be better than Romney in dealing with the economy by a 15-point margin. That’s the reverse of all respondents, who say they prefer Romney by six points.

Latinos are also more optimistic about the direction the country is headed. They are almost evenly divided about it with 41 percent saying the country is headed in the right direction and 45 percent saying it’s on the wrong track.

Compare that to all respondents, just 32 percent of whom say the country’s going in the right direction versus 60 percent, who say it’s off on the wrong track.

Romney also continues to have an image problem with Latinos. While the former Massachusetts governor is viewed more negatively than positively with all Americans, it’s even worse with Hispanics – just 22 percent view him positively; 44 percent view him negatively.

By contrast, 64 percent of Hispanics say they have a favorable view of Obama.

NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo has sponsored two polls since the president’s immigration announcement, which halted the deportation of illegal immigrants younger than 30 and who were brought to the United States as children.

There is no significant movement in support from Hispanics, but that support appears to have solidified. The president’s challenge, however, continues to be turning out these voters in the numbers he will need this November.

POLL NOTES… With the Olympics starting this week, there was an interesting difference that emerged in the poll between Hispanics and all respondents when it comes to Olympic viewing preferences. A plurality of all Americans (29 percent) named gymnastics as their favorite Olympic sport. But nearly 4-in-10 Hispanics (39 percent) say they prefer team sports.

That’s no surprise, considering cultural differences in views relating to soccer — a.k.a. “fútbol.”

The Hispanic oversample of the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll was conducted by Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff from July 18-22. It has a margin of error of +/- 5.7%.


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