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Jobs, Immigration: Key Issues for CO's Latino Voters

GRAPHIC: Latino voters poll.
GRAPHIC: Latino voters poll.
July 2, 2012

DENVER - Colorado's Latino voters, like many other Americans, think the economy is the top concern facing the nation, according to results of a new poll. The survey, carried out by Latino Decisions and America's Voice, found half of the Latino voters surveyed in Colorado cite the economy and jobs as the major issues the President and Congress need to address.

Dr. Robert Preuhs, an assistant professor at Metro State University of Denver, specializes in minority politics and representation, and says he isn't surprised by the findings.

"That's been the case since we started measuring Latino decisions, and Latino public opinion. Much like the rest of the country, Latinos look at the economy, big issues, as their first priority."

The poll also asked about state and federal immigration policy. In Colorado, 39 percent of Latinos polled said it's the "most important issue" in this election. More than half said they worry that Arizona-style "show me your papers" legislation could lead to an anti-Hispanic climate in the nation.

Preuhs says these types of issues can motivate people to vote, and that candidates should take notice.

"Winning is about both convincing people that you're the preferred candidate, but also getting them to the polls."

For Colorado voters, he says, there's a clear divide on immigration policy. President Obama announced last month he would block deportation for most people brought to the country by their parents illegally as children ... while in Colorado, former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo last week threatened a lawsuit over Metro State's proposal to lower the tuition rate for undocumented students.

"When an issue like this is perceived as partisan, it gives voters, and in this case, particularly Latino voters, a clear direction in terms of which party to vote for, and this underlying kind of mobilization that, you know, voting matters."

But he warns, that can also cut both ways, turning off other voters in the process.

Poll results from five states can be found at

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO