A new poll by Latino Decisions shows that President Barack Obama’s numbers are up among Latino voters from the middle of last year, but even so, less than half said they would cast their vote for Democrats or Obama in 2012.
Latino voters gave Obama a 70% approval rating but only 43% said they are certain they would vote for him next year.
“There is no doubt that Obama has the ability to win the Latino vote, and he still has solid support within the community. But when it comes to whether they will vote for him for sure, Latinos show a margin of doubt,” Matt Barreto, a political science professor at the University of Washington and pollster for Latino Decisions, said.
In June of last year, a Gallup poll showed that Obama’s approval among Latinos dropped to 57% and a Latino Decisions poll measured it at 60%. The new poll shows that Latinos also have varying degrees of approval for the President, with 32% of those polled saying they strongly support Obama and 38% saying they somewhat approve of his performance.
Despite the increased ratings, Adrián Pantoja, a political scientist and professor at Pritzer College, says Latinos are turning to Obama because they don’t really have anywhere else to turn.
“What I see is that Latinos have few options. Yes, we are disillusioned by some things, the economy hits us hard, immigration reform did not happen despite an attempt, but in the end, the only ally we have in D.C. seems to be Obama,” said Pantoja.
The GOP had very poor numbers in the poll. More than half of those surveyed, 66 percent, said the Republican Party is negative towards Latinos and does not care about the community. Another 18% said Republicans don’t do a good job for Latinos.
“I think the most interesting story here is how badly the Republicans are faring with Latinos. It is as if Latinos are not pro-Democrat, but rather anti-Republican,” said Gary Segura, a political science professor at Stanford University.
Republicans have their work cut out for them if they hope to garner enough support among Latinos to make a dent in Obama’s numbers next year. Only 9% of Latino voters said that they will vote for a Republican candidate and another 8% said that they might.
“That is why people like Jeb Bush have been insisting that attention must be paid to the party’s relationship with Latinos,” Barreto said. “Because what this poll reveals is very bad news for Republicans.”
Latinos remain unsatisfied with the failure to see any immigration reform legislation passed and the current state of the economy, a fact that may hurt both parties come election season. When asked whether they have a good image of Congress, only 8% said they strongly approved of them compared to almost a third, 33 percent, who said they disprove of them.
“If Obama wants to be reelected, he is going to have to generate more enthusiasm among Latinos,” said Pantoja.
Among the respondents, 54% identified themselves as Democrats, 14% as Republicans, 18% as independent and 7% as other.
The poll included 500 Latino registered voters and was conducted in January and February 2011 in 21 states where 95% of registered Latino voters live.