At long last, a first take at a concrete answer to what has, up until now, been a mostly speculative conversation. Would President Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration reform put a dent in Latinos’ turnout?
The answer: It likely did.
Today, Latino Decisions, in partnership with National Council of La Raza, the Eva Longoria-sponsored Latino Victory Project, and immigration reform advocacy group America’s Voice, released the final installment of its bilingual, landline and cell-phone poll. Latino Decisions, in addition to polling those who intended to vote, talked to those who were registered but were not interested in participating in the 2014 elections. Among the reasons voters gave for not voting this year were a lack of time in their day (25 percent); a lack of knowledge about their polling place (24 percent); frustration with “bad candidates” (19 percent) and a lack of photo ID required to vote (14 percent).
Twenty-three percent of non-voting Latinos who responded to the poll said that Obama’s decision to delay executive action made them more enthusiastic about the president and the Democratic Party, while 60 percent of non-voting Latinos said the delay made them less enthusiastic. This is notable because Latinos have historically backed Democrats by wide margins. In every state that Latino Decisions polled save for Florida–Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, North Carolina, Nevada and Texas–respondents said that immigration was the most important issue to them.
And, as what will widely be interpreted as a kick in the pants to Obama, 68 percent of non-voters said that they could be brought back to the polls in 2016 with executive action on immigration reform “before the end of this year,” according to Latino Decisions.
“In 2012 the thing that drove Latino turnout was [the deportation deferral program for young undocumented immigrants] DACA,” said Latino Decisions’ Matt Barreto. “It’s extremely clear that what drove Latino voter turnout [in 2012] and the record share of the Latino vote Obama got was the enthusiasm he got from enacting DACA.” Obama ought to take pointers from his past wins to help both Latinos and his party, Barreto said.