Latinos and the 2010 Elections

Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Hispanic Center, October 5, 2010

In a year when support for Democratic candidates has eroded, the party’s standing among one key voting group–Latinos-appears as strong as ever. Two-thirds (65%) of Latino registered voters say they plan to support the Democratic candidate in their local congressional district, while just 22% support the Republican candidate, according to a nationwide survey of Latinos.

If this pro-Democratic margin holds up on Election Day next month, it would be about as wide as in 2008, when Latinos supported Barack Obama for president over John McCain by 67% to 31%.

However, Hispanic registered voters appear to be less motivated than other voters to go to the polls. Just one-third (32%) of all Latino registered voters say they have given this year’s election “quite a lot” of thought. In contrast, half (50%) of all registered voters say the same. And when it comes to their intent to vote, half (51%) of Latino registered voters say they are absolutely certain they will vote in this year’s midterm election, while seven-in-ten (70%) of all registered voters say the same.

The survey finds that among Latino registered voters, Republicans may be more likely to turn out and vote than Democrats. Some 44% of Latino Republicans say they have given the election quite a lot of thought compared with 28% of Latino Democrats. This partisan gap is consistent with survey findings of the full population of registered voters.

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In recent elections, Latinos have also represented a growing share of the electorate. According to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis of Census Bureau data, in 2008 Latino voters were 7.4% of all voters nationwide, up from 6% in 2004.

When it comes to opinions of President Barack Obama, a greater share of Latino registered voters approve of his job performance than do all U.S. registered voters–63% versus 47%.

Yet when asked about the effect of his administration’s policies on Hispanics, Latino registered voters are divided. More than half (51%) say his policies have had no effect on Latinos, while one-in-four (26%) say they have been helpful to Latinos and 13% say they have been harmful.

The new survey also reveals that the Democratic Party continues to hold a large advantage in party identification among Latino registered voters. More than six-in-ten (62%) Latino registered voters say they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while one-quarter (25%) say the same for the Republican Party–a Democratic advantage of 37 percentage points.

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The Immigration Issue

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{snip}Nearly six-in-ten (58%) Latino registered voters who have discussed the immigration debate say they are absolutely certain they will vote in November, compared with just four-in-ten (39%) of those who have not talked about the immigration debate.

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Among the report’s other findings:

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* Fewer than four-in-ten (38%) of Latino registered voters who are Spanish dominant say they are absolutely certain to vote this year. This is lower than any other demographic group of Latino registered voters.

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[The report “Latinos and the 2010 Elections: Strong Support for Democrats; Weak Voter Motivation” can be downloaded as a PDF file here.]

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