Latinos are expressing more enthusiasm about voting next week, possibly motivated by a controversial ad urging them not to exercise that right, a new poll shows.
But although the trend would generally favor Democratic House and Senate candidates, especially in a dozen or states where Latinos' numbers can more likely influence the outcome of elections, the same tracking poll shows that their enthusiasm remains lower than it was for the 2008 elections.
“Overall, we found the Republican enthusiasm advantage seen among the general pubic is, if anything, now reversed among Latino voters in favor of Democrats,” said Matt Barreto, director of the Latino Decisions tracking poll and a political science professor at the University of Washington (Seattle).
The updated numbers released today from the telephone tracking poll of Latino registered voters in 21 states – who made up 94 percent of the Latino electorate in 2008 – are the results of interviews conducted from October 8-21. They margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.
The survey found that 58 percent of Latino registered voters now report being “very enthusiastic” about voting, compared with just 40 percent who characterized themselves that way in the same poll four weeks ago.
And most of the voters surveyed continue to say they plan to vote for Democratic candidates if they vote. The so-called “surge voters” – those whose histories include voting in only the 2008 general election – give Democrats the biggest edge, 69 percent to 9.8 percent.
However, responses from those voters show that their propensity for voting this year is 20 percent lower than other Latinos who say they are enthusiastic about going to the polls and who have histories of voting in November 2006, the 2008 primary, and the 2008 general election. This more likely voting group favors Democrats by just 57 percent to 23 percent.
Barreto said that rising interest and enthusiasm by Latinos in the election is clearly reflected, however, and he traces some of that to the flap over the “don’t vote” ad last week advising Hispanics not to vote for members of Congress because it said that Democrats broke their promises over immigration reform.
News reports that the group behind the ad, Latinos for Reform, has Republican ties, has helped to fuel some of the backlash. In Nevada, the ad was seen as an effort to hurt the re-election campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.
Democrats from President Obama on down have denounced the spot. And Spanish-language media outlets such as Univision and Telemundo have not only refused to air it; they also say they are increasing their get-out-the-vote public-service announcements in response.
In addition, Latino advocacy groups such as Mi Familia Vota and others say they are doubling their efforts to mobilize Latino voters.
Barreto said that the states where Latino voters can have the most influence in close contest include California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Florida, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
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