Both Barack Obama and John McCain are courting the Latino vote through ads, speeches to several key Hispanic organizations and promises to address their needs. But according to a new Pew survey [PDF] of about 2,000 Hispanics, including 1,200 registered voters, Obama seems to have a hold on this constituency, at least for now.
The Illinois senator leads his GOP rival by almost a 3-to-1 ratio among Hispanic voters. Sixty-six percent told pollsters they prefer Obama, compared to 23 percent who preferred McCain. Furthermore, while 44 percent of registered voters said they view the GOP candidate favorably, 76 percent said the same of Obama. On top of that, 55 percent said the Democrat is "better for Hispanics," compared to a paltry 11 percent who selected McCain; 29 percent said there isn't a difference.
The fact that Obama is black appears to be an asset with this constituency. While a majority 53 percent said it wouldn't make a difference among Hispanic voters, 32 percent said Obama's race would benefit him. Only 11 percent said it would hurt him. For McCain, on the other hand, while almost 6 in 10 respondents said the Arizona senator's race wouldn't make a difference in November, 24 percent said it would actually hurt him; 12 percent indicated his race would help him.
McCain's party affiliation certainly isn't helping him, either. Nearly 50 percent of respondents said the Democratic Party has more concern for Hispanics, compared to a dismal 7 percent who said so of the Republican Party.
The survey also finds that Obama is succeeding in his attempt to win over Hispanic voters who backed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primary campaign. More than 75 percent of the respondents who said they voted for Clinton now said they would vote for Obama. McCain picked up only 8 percent of the Clinton bloc.
Pollsters also found that Hispanics overwhelmingly say Obama would be better than McCain at handling the issues most important to them. A majority of registered voters said the Democrat would better manage education, jobs, health care and cost of living -- registered voters' top four concerns. Even in areas lower on the list of concerns, though, Obama still bests his GOP opponent. More than twice as many voters thought Obama would be better at handling the Iraq war than McCain (58 percent to 27 percent). And on immigration, the Republican is trailing by a whopping 40 percentage points -- 59 percent to 19 percent.
Interestingly, immigration ranked relatively low on Hispanics' concerns. While a full three-fourths said it was extremely or very important to them, this is still considerably lower than the aforementioned domestic issues.
A Republican Rout?
Voters are decidedly displeased with Congress, but it seems many Americans are reserving particular ire for Republicans on the Hill. In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey [PDF], 49 percent of voters said that they would prefer to see Democrats in control of Congress, while just 36 percent hoped for a Republican resurgence. Add to the list of GOP woes fundraising difficulties and a vastly unpopular party leader -- President Bush -- and the recipe for a potentially disastrous election year appears complete.
This week National Journal asked congressional insiders from both parties how many seats they believe Democrats are poised to gain or lose in the House and the Senate this cycle, and found that circumstances look even worse for Republicans than they did several months ago.
In March, Democratic insiders predicted that their party would pick up an average of 13.8 seats in the House. That projection rose to 16.5 seats this month. A 67 percent majority predicted a pickup of 10 to 19 seats, while another 29 percent were confident enough to say Dems would gain 20 or more. "Could be a Republican washout if McCain collapses," one Democrat said.
Even Republicans are now acknowledging the Dems' advantage. While GOP insiders in March projected an average 0.6-seat loss for Democrats, this month they predicted a 6.6-seat gain for their political foes. "In this environment and with all the money Democrats have raised, Election Day victories will be handed to them on a silver platter," lamented one Republican who foresaw a 17-seat pickup for House Dems. Thirty-nine percent of Republicans agree with this calculation, but 36 percent hope for a less serious setback, arguing that Dems will gain one to nine seats.
In the Senate, both sides see Democrats picking up an additional seat compared to their March assessments. Democratic insiders went from expecting an average 4.7-seat pickup to a 5.8-seat gain, while Republicans revised their prediction from an average 2.9 seats to 3.9 seats. Majorities in both parties -- 66 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of Republicans -- guessed that four to six seats would turn from red to blue. "A great year, but probably not enough to reach the magic number of 60," one Democrat ventured.