The conventions did not spark Latino voter enthusiasm, here’s why it matters
Democrats and Republicans featured many Latinos at their conventions, but voters aren’t more excited about going to the polls.
President Obama retains a wide lead among Latino voters over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, but lingering questions remain about how many will show up to vote on Election Day.
Obama leads Romney 66-29 percent among Latino registered voters nationwide in a weekly tracking poll conducted by Latino Decisions for impreMedia. That mirrors the percentage split that we’ve seen among Latinos since 2011„ though Romney has received a slight bump in support following the Republican National Convention.
Obama’s lead over Romney appears strong following the conventions, in which both parties put on nationally-televised displays (that included a lot of Spanish) aimed at Latino voters. While the president’s 72 percent favorability rating remains virtually unchanged from three weeks ago, Romney’s approval rating is under water at 27 percent and over half view him unfavorably.
While the Republican National Convention didn’t make the same splash as it’s Democratic counterpart, appearances by Latino pols like Florida Senator Marco Rubio may have contributed to a slight uptick in Latino support.
Negative perceptions of the Republican Party have decreased in part thanks to its effort to feature prominent Latino leaders at their convention in Tampa, including Marco Rubio and Susana Martinez. Forty-seven percent of Latino voters say that the GOP doesn’t care about them compared to 56 percent three weeks ago.
But few see the party favorably; only 19 percent believe the GOP cares about the Latino community (that’s up from a nadir of 14 percent three weeks ago).
In addition, Obama received a bump among all voters following the convention, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, and now leads 47-43 percent among likely voters.
Obama has enjoyed an advantage over Republicans among Latinos since the campaign began, which pundits generally believe could help him win in a handful of key swing states. But he can only capitalize on that advantage if enough Latinos are energized enough to vote.
The conventions are typically the time when most voters tune into the campaign debate, but there are no indicators in this poll that what Latinos saw in Tampa and Charlotte made them more willing to vote.
Lower-than-average enthusiasm has been a factor for months that some experts believe could hurt Obama in November. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll from mid-August showed that their measure of voter enthusiasm found Latinos far behind that of the general population.
The Obama campaign has led an aggressive effort, both on the ground and on the airwaves, to court Latino voters in battleground states since last year. With the general election now officially underway, the Romney campaign is trying to blanket the airwaves with Spanish-language ads in a late effort to eat away at the president’s Latino support.
For a litany of reasons, Romney’s chances of convincing a significant amount of Latinos to vote for him remain slim. His best chance at picking up Latino votes is in Florida, which contains a large contingent of Cuban-American voters who trend Republican and swing constituencies like Puerto Rican voters in the central part of the state.
In other western battleground states that have predominantly Mexican-American Latino populations, like Nevada and Colorado, Romney’s best hope might be for diminished turnout. Whether the 12.2 million Latinos expected to vote actually show up on Election Day could determine whether President Obama wins a second term.