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Poll: NV Latino Voters Energized

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July 3, 2012

LAS VEGAS - Nevada is one of five so-called "election battleground" states, where a new poll shows that recent events are pushing the Latino vote further into the Democratic fold.

Associate professor David Damore specializes in campaigns and elections at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and he says the Supreme Court decision striking down most of Arizona's controversial immigration law, known as SB 1070, is one of the recent events that he says is energizing Latino voters in Nevada.

"The SB 1070 ruling, as well as the movement to allow the 'Dreamers' to stay in the country, that provided a big boost among Latino Voters here. And the Republicans, of course, are still sort of struggling for a message."

The poll, taken by Latino Decisions and America's Voice, gives President Obama a nearly 50-point lead among Latinos: he is out-polling presumed Republican candidate Mitt Romney 69 percent to 20 percent in Nevada. Damore says the GOP knew the local Latino vote was always out of reach, and he adds that going forward, Romney needs to minimize the gap and boost his Latino support by at least 15 percent.

Damore notes that 64 percent of Nevada Latino voters say they are less enthusiastic about voting for Romney because of his previous support for "self-deportation."

"Romney tacked very hard to the right during the nominating phase; he's having a hard time sort of moderating now."

Damore says there is still plenty of room for the Latino vote to grow in Nevada, and that bodes well for Democrats for years to come. On the other hand, Damore has this assessment for Republicans, who are relying mostly on an older, white, rural population, which is in decline.

"It's very, very tough for the Republicans, given their sort of present messaging, in that they are going have to find some way to appeal to minority voters; otherwise they're going to really struggle not just in Nevada, but across the whole Mountain West."

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

More on the poll is at www.latinodecisions.com.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV