Poll: Obama Has Big Lead With Latinos But Enthusiasm is Tepid
A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo poll gives President Barack Obama a whopping lead over presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney among Latino voters — but Latino voters enthusiasm isn’t terrific:
President Barack Obama continues to lead presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney by wide margins with Latinos, according to the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo poll.
Hispanics, the largest-growing segment of the U.S. population over the past decade, said they preferred Obama over Romney in the presidential race, 63 to 28 percent.
That can be a major problem for the GOP if Latinos get out and vote — which is the big if.
That margin has been relatively consistent since May when the poll started sampling additional Latino interviews. It’s also, though, far below the stated Romney campaign goal of winning 38 percent of the Hispanic vote.
“Our goal is to do better than four years ago and the McCain campaign did — our goal is to hit 38 percent with the Hispanic vote,” Jose Fuentes, a national co-chairman of Romney’s Hispanic leadership team, told The Hill newspaper. “That’s our goal. That’s our national average.”
By every measure and every issue – from foreign policy to immigration, the economy to taxes – Hispanic registered voters said they overwhelmingly preferred Obama over his Republican opponent. But there continues to be a warning sign for the president’s reelection campaign: Latinos are among the least enthusiastic voting groups in the country this cycle.
“The president continues to perform strongly among Latinos, but his campaign continues to face the challenge of engaging interest and turn-out,” said Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster who conducted the poll with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart. “As we head into the conventions, the evidence suggests Latino voters continue to lag behind in terms of their self-described interest in this election.”
Despite President Obama’s June immigration announcement – which halted the deportation of illegal immigrants younger than 30 and who were brought to the United States as children – there has not been an uptick in Latino enthusiasm. That policy took effect Aug. 15, but Latino interest in this election is at its lowest point in the NBC-WSJ-Telemundo poll.
Just 61 percent of Latinos indicated a high level of enthusiasm in the upcoming election (registering an “8,” “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale). That’s 20 points below the average of 81 percent of all voters. And almost 20 points below 2008 levels for Latinos at about the same time before the election.
In this poll, in fact, one in 10 Latinos declared themselves a “1” – the highest level recorded this cycle.
And less than half (49%) count themselves as the highest-interest voters (9s and 10s). That’s the lowest among all voting groups in the NBC/WSJ poll.
They are similar, but below even the interest level of young voters, age 18-34. Fifty-two percent of young voters say they are 9s or 10s. Both should be red flags for the Obama campaign, as both young voters and Latinos are pillars of the president’s reelection hopes.
And more bad news for Romney:
Still, Romney is seeing his worst likeability scores with Latinos. His negative rating is at an all-time high with the group – 48 percent (with 31 percent viewing him very negatively). Just 31 percent viewed him positively.
Obama, on the other hand, is viewed positively by more than two-thirds of Hispanics (67 percent).
This poll and another raise a troubling question for Romney and the GOP. Another recent NBC poll found Romney with (no joke) 0% among black voters. If Romney wins he’d come to office with Benny’s Bargain Basement numbers in terms of support from Latinos and blacks — way below the lowest numbers of any other Republican President. Due to the partisanship of this election, whoever is elected is likely to have a big chunk of voters prepared to not support them. Romney would have even less of a safety net of support among voters than Obama, unless Obama’s likability falls into the septic tank between now and November.
And, of course, the big issue for the GOP: if Latinos do get out and vote their big numbers in key states could swing these states to Obama and the Dems.