Poll: With Latino voters, Republicans struggling to make up ground against Obama
The president has a wide lead over Republicans, but he also has work to do to shore up his support among Latino voters. (Getty Images)
By JORDAN FABIAN
Republicans are trailing President Obama by a significant margin in a key test of voter preferences heading into the 2012 elections, according to a new poll released Monday.
While Obama holds a sizable edge over Republicans with Latinos, pollsters say the president is still in danger of seeing the group stay home from the polls in 2012.
When Obama is pitted against a generic Republican opponent in the impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll, he leads among registered Latino voters 61 percent to 17 percent. Twenty-two percent say they are undecided, though 3 percent of undecideds lean toward Obama, and 5 percent lean Republican.
Sixty-three percent also approve of President Obama’s job performance, compared to 29 percent who disapprove.
The poll indicates that Republicans have lots of work to do before next year to chip away at President Obama’s bloc of Latino supporters.
The generic ballot support is lower than the percentage of the sample that identified as Republicans, pollsters said on a webinar Monday. And almost every Republican candidate is suffering from low favorability ratings among Latino voters.
Mitt Romney and Herman Cain are the only candidates to have net positive ratings with Latinos, though both are within the poll’s margin of error.
Romney’s rating is 28-26 percent and Cain’s is 15-14 percent.
Perry, a candidate some observers predicted could appeal to Latino voters due to his track record as governor of Texas, is suffering from 22-39 percent favorability rating.
The broader problem for Republicans is that Latino voters aren’t familiar with the candidates. Twenty-eight percent said they had never heard of Romney and 18 percent said they had no opinion. Those numbers go up to 52 percent and 21 percent for Cain.
“None of the Republican candidates are looking particularly strong,” said Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions. “They haven’t exactly been doing outreach to the Latino community at this point.”
Though Obama enjoys a wide lead over his Republican counterparts, his support among Latino voters is still not where it was three years ago, when he was backed by 67 percent of the vote. Forty-nine percent of Obama supporters say they are certain to vote for the president, while 12 percent say they could change their mind.
That so-called “soft support” could be a sign of dampened enthusiasm about voting to reelect the president. Forty-seven percent of the sample said they are very enthusiastic about voting next year, a figure pollsters say is lower than what they witnessed in surveys taken around the same in 2008.
That phenomenon is likely propelled by the weak economy: 78 percent say they are just about the same or worse off financially than they were a year ago.
“It’s very early, but we’re not picking up that same buzz and energy,” Barreto said.
Obama, however, is buoyed by strong support for his jobs bill and his order to cut down on deporting undocumented immigrants who have not committed crimes; each initiative receives over 70-percent support from registered Latino voters.
The poll was conducted in both English and Spanish between Sept. 30 and Oct. 9. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.