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Poll: VA Latino Voters Favor Dems; Obama Gains Points

GRAPHIC: Latino voter preferences.

GRAPHIC: Latino voter preferences.


July 2, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - President Obama and other Democrats are in the lead with Latino voters in Virginia and four other "battleground states." That's according to a new poll on issues such as immigration policies, the economy and health care.

Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions, one of the groups behind the polling project, says the recent announcement by the Obama administration to halt deportations of young immigrants brought to the United States illegally, probably played a big role in boosting the approval ratings.

"We saw a sizable increase in support for the President and in intensity of voting, after the announcement. Latino voters were telling us that they were more enthusiastic and, specifically, more enthusiastic about Obama."

Democrats led in the poll when it came to Congress, as well, with 59 percent in favor of Democrats and 22 percent planning to vote for Republican candidates in their districts. Barreto, who is also an associate professor of political science at the University of Washington, says the numbers are not surprising, given the importance of comprehensive immigration reform among Latinos.

"Immigration is an issue that carries a lot of symbolic and personal weight, and we find that Latinos in Virginia are telling us the same thing: They expect additional immigration reform, and they want to see some movement on that issue."

Barreto says national polls show a very close presidential race, so Latino voters will be more influential in Virginia than ever before. The issue that came in second in the Virginia poll, behind immigration, was the economy and jobs.

The poll was conducted in Virginia, Colorado, Arizona, Florida and Nevada. All five states showed the President's approval ratings shot up 16 points after his announcement on June 15, compared to those ratings in prior polls of Latino voters. If the election were held today, of those polled in all five states, 67 percent would pull the lever for Obama and 23 percent for Romney.

The full poll results are available at www.latinodecisions.com.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA