New Pew Hispanic report reveals Obama won’t get a totally free ride from Latino voters in 2012

LatinaLista — If the 2011 National Survey of Latinos (NSL) proves anything, it proves that Latino voters aren’t swayed totally by emotion when it comes to supporting a presidential candidate and/or his/her policies. Latino voters can take a step back, look at the bigger picture and weigh the pros and cons, no matter how frustrating is the final decision.

The latest national survey issued by the Pew Hispanic Center to 1,220 Latinos, ages 18 and up,from November 9 through December 7, 2011, reveals that while a majority of Latinos don’t like the Obama administration’s deportation policies, most would probably vote for him in 2012.

It’s because Latino voters have a complex relationship with Republicans. On the one hand, more Latinos self-identify as conservative but are turned off by the negative GOP rhetoric targeting undocumented immigrants. If anything, the survey shows just how big an opportunity the GOP is missing out on when it comes to Latino voters. By adopting a strategy that purposely alienates a conservative segment who are compassionate to the plight of their undocumented hermanos and hermanas, Republicans are forcing Latinos to choose. Everybody knows familia comes first.

Looking at the survey more deeply, it’s immediate clear that Latino voters are not in favor of open borders, as some suggest. In fact, more Latinos believe that a combination of both enforcement and legalization is the route to take when dealing with the issue of illegal immigration.

The bottom line is the 2012 election doesn’t excite Latino voters like it did in 2008. The old saying, “stuck between a rock and a hard place,” takes on new meaning for a constituency that wants to remain hopeful but has been hit with such a strong dose of disillusionment that even if their candidate of choice wins the election, no one will still feel like celebrating.

According to the survey findings:

  • By a ratio of more than two-to-one (59% versus 27%), Latinos disapprove of the way the Obama administration is handling deportations of unauthorized immigrants.
  • Disapproval of Obama’s policy is most widespread among those who are aware that deportations have risen during his tenure. Among this group, more than three-quarters (77%) disapprove of the way his administration is handling the issue of deportations. Among those who are not aware that an increase has occurred, slightly more than half disapprove.
  • Awareness of the level of deportations is higher among foreign-born Hispanics than among native-born Hispanics—55% versus 25%. It is even higher among those who are most at risk of deportation.
  • Latinos are nearly twice as likely as the general public (42% versus 24%) to say the priority should be a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.
  • Even among those who disapprove of the way Obama is handling the issue of deportations, a majority support his reelection over either of these two potential Republican challengers. Obama would carry this group by 57% to 34% against Romney and 61% to 31% against Perry.
  • The survey also shows that identification with the Democratic Party among Hispanic registered voters remains strong. Two-thirds (67%) of Hispanic registered voters say they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while 20% say the same about the Republican Party.
  • And when asked which party has more concern for Hispanics, 45% say it’s the Democratic Party, while 12% say it’s the Republican Party.
  • Today 49% of Latinos approve of the job Obama is doing, down from 58% in 2010.
  • Among Latino registered voters, 35% describe their political views as conservative, 32% describe them as moderate and 28% describe their political views as liberal.
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