"Given the strong dissatisfaction Hispanics register in these three swing states with the direction of the country and the strength of the President's leadership," write former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Republican consultants Whit Ayers and Leslie Sanchez in a memorandum accompanying the survey, "it will be difficult in 2012 for President Obama to rack up the margins among Hispanic voters that he achieved in 2008."
The poll also shows some challenges for Republicans. On most issues, Hispanics in these three states favor Democrats, and Democrats still hold a big edge in party-identification among Latino voters. Furthermore, the memo states, "Republican positions on immigration reform continue to be at odds with the overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters."
According to the poll, majorities of Hispanic voters in each state want an immigration reform bill that includes earned legalization for undocumented immigrants -- a position that is anathema to most of the Republican caucus, including the party's presidential candidates. Some Republican leaders have urged the party in recent years to adopt a more moderate tone on immigration reform, but since failed efforts on the issue during the Bush administration, the party as a whole has largely moved away from that position.
"To remain competitive in the future in national elections and in states with significant Hispanic populations, including the three crucial swing states we have polled here, Republicans must increase their share of the Hispanic vote over that they have received in recent elections," the memo concludes.
The three polls were conducted from Sept. 6-10 by Ayers, McHenry & Associates, an Alexandria, Va.-based Republican consulting firm. The polls surveyed 400 registered, Hispanic voters in each state. The margin of error by state is +/- 4.9 percent.