Obama huddles with Hispanic groups to woo support for 2012 race

Obama’s talk about immigration, said Barreto, “doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to rush to the Democrats and the president, because the president has made repeated promises and nothing has been done.”

“People are scratching their heads,” he said.

Obama’s support among Latinos is also complicated by the tensions between Hispanic and black communities. This became visible in the Democrats’ 2008 primary races, when most Hispanic-subgroups supported Sen. Hillary Clinton more than then-Sen. Obama. In Texas, for example, Clinton outpolled Obama by 18 points among Hispanic men and 33 percent among Hispanic women, most of whom have roots in Mexico. Clinton also out-polled Obama in the Puerto Rican primary vote by 36 percent. Some Hispanics tell phone-surveyors, Anderson said, that Obama “‘is catering too much to blacks’ and if you’re picking that up on a survey, it’s out there.”

Democrats increasingly recognize they’ve got an uphill climb. Plouffe, for example, told the reporters at the Bloomberg event that “it’s going to be a very close, competitive election … a street fight for the presidency.”