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Poll Shows Democrats Lead Growing Among Latino Voters

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July 2, 2012

PHOENIX - President Obama has received a bump in support from Latino voters as a result of recent events. That's one finding of a new poll taken in five potential battleground states, including Arizona. The poll also found Arizona Latinos putting immigration above the economy as the issue they most want Congress and the President to address.

ASU assistant professor of political science Rodolfo Espino expects that ranking to change.

"So I suspect that as time goes on, immigration's not going to completely go away. It might drop down to number-two position. But it's just that what we've had in the news over the last week has brought immigration front and center for a lot of Latino voters."

The poll, carried out by Latino Decisions and America's Voice, gives President Obama a 74-to-18 percent lead over Mitt Romney among Latino voters in Arizona. A strong majority of those polled say they are more enthusiastic about supporting the President because of his decision to protect DREAM Act students from deportation, and less enthusiastic about Romney because of his previous support for so-called "self-deportation."

Romney has said President Obama's handling of the economy is the number-one issue of the presidential campaign. Espino says Latinos in general have been hit hard by the Great Recession, with higher rates of foreclosure and unemployment. He thinks Romney's best strategy for improving his standing with Latino voters may be to simply wait.

"You know, if you're Mitt Romney's advisors, I would say let the news - of SB 1070, the DHS, the 287g program - you just have to let that run the course. Return the discussion back to the economy."

Espino doesn't believe the race is close enough in Arizona for Latino votes alone to decide which candidate wins the state. But he says it's different in other western states such as New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, as well as some East Coast states, including Virginia, North Carolina, and especially Florida.

"These are those battleground states where Mitt Romney's previous statements on immigration, and Latino voters' concerns about those statements, could make the difference."

The poll was conducted June 12-21 in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia.

The poll's overall margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percent, and 4.9 percent in each state. Complete results are at bit.ly/LV4r5Z.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ