Despite increasing criticism over his administration's record number of deportations and stubbornly high unemployment rates, President Obama is well situated to repeat his strong performance with Latino voters in 2012. That's according to a new Univision News poll.
Obama leads the top three Republican presidential candidates among registered Latino voters in the 21 states with the largest Latino populations, according to the poll. Latino voters prefer Obama over Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, and Rick Perry by two-to-one margins. The president is up 65 percent to 22 percent against Cain, 67 percent to 24 percent against Romney, and a whopping 68 percent to 21 percent against Perry.
Latinos could play an even greater role in the 2012 election than they did in 2008. That's because forecasters agree that it's going to be a much tighter election. Four years ago, 6.6 million Latinos voted, but next year a record 12.2 million Latinos are set to vote -- a 26 percent increase from 2008, according to projections from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.
"Simply put, they are the fastest-growing voting group in the nation," Matthew Jaffe and Jordan Fabian wrote in a story for Univision analyzing the study.
Although Latinos prefer Obama, it's not because they think he's done a great job. Instead, like much of the rest of the country, they're just not moved by any of his potential opponents in the GOP.
Below are some of the findings from the poll, as explained Jaffe and Fabian in "Univision News poll: Obama holds advantage with Latino voters, leaving GOP with uphill battle":
- Rick Perry faces an especially tough uphill battle to court Latino voters. Among Latinos, Texas Gov. Perry is the best-known GOP candidate. But he has the worst favorability rating of the top three GOP hopefuls: negative 22 percent.
- Who are these guys? Latino voters don't know much about the Republican candidates. Over half -- 53 percent -- have no opinion of or have never heard of Cain, for instance. It's worth noting that the poll was mostly conducted before the evening of Sunday Oct. 31, when allegations of sexual harassment were leveled at Cain dating back to his time as head of the National Restaurant Association.
- Still no compelling jobs plans. Latino voters are currently more worried about the lack of jobs and the failing economy than immigration reform. According to the Univision News/Latino Decisions poll, among all voters nationwide, 74 percent said the most important issue in how they will pick a candidate to support will be jobs and the economy, while only 10 percent said immigration reform. Among Latinos, 65 percent said it was jobs and the economy, with 23 percent saying immigration reform.
- Speaking badly about immigration will still hurt candidates. Ultimately, it's clear that even when economic views are set aside, hostile statements on immigration damage a candidate's support. Meanwhile positive statements about immigrants increase support. Predictably, this trend is far stronger among Latino voters, but it is still present among the general electorate.
- On the DREAM Act: Among Latinos, the majority in favor of the bill is a massive 84 percent to 11 percent, while a significant majority of the general electorate also backs the measure by 58 percent to 28 percent.
The Univision News/Latino Decisions poll is based on phone interviews in English and Spanish with 1,000 Latino registered Latino voters conducted between Friday Oct. 21 and Tuesday Nov. 1 in the 21 states with the largest Latino populations in the United States.