President Barack Obama is the presidential election choice of 80 percent of Latino civil rights activists, organizers and ordinary voters gathered at the National Council of La Raza Convention this week – only 10 percent of those who responded to the civil rights organization’s text message poll indicated that they plan to cast a ballot for Mitt Romney.
A survey of 804 respondents, attendees of the 2012 NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Annual Conference, the largest yearly gathering of Latino leaders in the nation, participated in the annual straw poll meant to measure policy and issue priorities in the Latino community. A 36 percent plurality of those surveyed identified jobs and the economy as the most important issues to the community; immigration was narrowly behind at 29 percent, and education continued to be a top priority for 21 percent of attendees. The survey found that 73 percent strongly supported the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, while 8 percent disagreed with the court.
Over the course of the past weekend, attendees at the NCLR Annual Conference were invited to participate in the mobile straw poll conducted via text message. This year’s number of survey respondents almost doubled that of last year, most likely a result of heightened awareness of policy issues due to the upcoming presidential election, as well as the site of this year’s Conference being Nevada, a state hit hard by the housing and employment crisis. This year’s results differ significantly from last year’s, in which nearly half (45 percent) of Conference participants cited immigration as their top issue while jobs and the economy were identified as top-tier concerns for only one-quarter (25 percent).
While immigration slipped as the top issue, anti-immigrant measures such as Arizona’s SB 1070 and Alabama’s HB 56 are not going unnoticed; an overwhelming 77 percent of those surveyed said these laws have served as a motivating factor for them to turn out to the polls in November.
“The fact that Latinos are motivated to turn out in November is welcome news considering how important this year’s election is,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR. “Our community is clearly spurred by the desire to speed up their own economic recovery, and they are motivated to turn out by the attempts to marginalize the community through anti-immigrant legislation. They’ve made it clear that their voices in the electoral process will not be silenced.”
Some political analysts have estimated that Romney needs as much as 40 percent of the Latino vote to win in November. The Romney campaign may plan to focus its efforts to reach Latino voters in Florida and Arizona, abandoning hopes of attracting Hispanic support in other states, Murguia said.
The Romney campaign did give the convention a five minute infomercial narrated by Ann Romney, Murguia added. NCLRaired the video during the Monday luncheon “in the interest of fairness”, Murguia said.
“Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) say that representing the Latino community is their chief criterion, above partisanship; those who plan to vote primarily to support a political party prefer Democrats over Republicans by a substantial margin (36 percent to 5 percent). These data only provide more fuel for the argument that candidates for office at all levels should heed the priorities of the growing and politically significant Latino electorate,” noted Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners, the firm that analyzed the results of the straw poll.
Additional highlights from the poll:
• A majority (73 percent) strongly support the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, while only 8 percent disagree.
• President Barack Obama was overwhelmingly the candidate of choice garnering 80 percent of the support of Conference attendees; Gov. Mitt Romney netted 10 percent support.
• Nearly half of the respondents (48 percent) said that supporting and representing the Latino community is more important than supporting one particular political party.