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Poll: Immigration Top Issue for AZ Latino Voters

Gary Segura, pollster and Stanford University political science professor. Photo credit: Latino Decisions

Gary Segura, pollster and Stanford University political science professor. Photo credit: Latino Decisions
October 10, 2012

PHOENIX - Arizona's registered Latino voters say immigration reform and the DREAM Act are the most important issues that should be addressed by Congress and the president. That's one result from the latest poll by Latino Decisions.

In other states, says Gary Segura, a pollster and Stanford University political science professor, Latino voters picked jobs and the economy as their top issues.

"Immigration really sets the tone for lots of voters. Even in states where immigration is clearly the second-most important issue, it still has a significant impact. But Arizona stands above the rest in terms of its importance."

The Latino Decisions poll also finds Arizona Latino voters prefer President Obama over Mitt Romney by a wide margin, 80 percent to 14 percent. They favor Rich Carmona over U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake in the U.S. Senate race, 75 percent to 12 percent. The poll has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

The poll found that two-thirds of those surveyed know someone who is an undocumented immigrant, and 55 percent know someone who would be eligible for legal status under the DREAM Act. Segura says both political parties make the mistake of regarding the undocumented and Latino citizens as separate groups.

"Not only can you not really separate Latinos from immigrants, in terms of how people see the political world, but in fact, when you speak negatively about even undocumented immigrants, because of the nature of mixed-status families, neighborhoods and communities, you could be talking badly about someone's brother-in-law."

At one point in the campaign, Romney called Arizona's immigration laws a "model for the nation," while Flake voted against the DREAM Act. As a result, Segura says Latino voters are less enthusiastic about Republican candidates, and the poll numbers back that up.

"The lesson I would take is that the Republicans' immigration position is really making it hard for them to get through with any other message."

The poll found 60 percent of Arizona's registered Latino voters are more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in 2008.

The poll results are online at latinodecisions.com.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ