Latino poll shows ethnic solidarity, GOP opportunities

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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A detailed poll of Latino voters indicates support for strict border control coexisting with high solidarity for fellow Latinos who illegally overcome those curbs.

The poll also shows a series of income and regional splits among Latinos that offer GOP candidates some opportunity to boost their minority share of the Democratic-leaning Latino vote.

Those splits shows that tougher border policies are more likely to be favored by Latinos outside California, by those with incomes greater than $50,000 or with a college degree, and by those who speak English and are more integrated into American society.

The poll of 800 Latinos — including 470 registered voters — was conducted in June by John McLaughlin, who has run other polls for the advocates of large-scale immigration.

The survey will be used by the two main GOP factions in the high-stakes immigration debate.

The primary faction is the business wing, which argues that a large influx of Latino will spur the economy and can weaken Latino support for Democratic giveaways, such as more immigration and more government aid. This faction supports the Senate bill, which could double immigration up to 46 million during the next two decades.

The poll provided some evidence to support this claim.

“When asked what single issue or action that Republicans could do would be most important and persuade them to vote for a Republican member of Congress the leading responses were: immigration 21%, economy 11%, help Hispanics 6%, health care 5% and stop discrimination 4%,” said the poll.

The populist faction, however, argues that the GOP can’t increase its share of the Latino vote — or the declining turnout by the much large population of native-born Americans — until it slows immigration to better integrate recent immigrants into American society via education, the workplace and marriage, plus more use of the English language.

“When asked if they think that ‘the Republican Party cares about people like you,’ only one in four Hispanic adults, 27%, said yes [and] six in ten, 61%, said no,” said the poll.

The poll showed Latinos’ near-universal support for immigrants.

Eight-five percent of all respondents said they support “granting legal status to undocumented immigrants who live here.”

But this promise of support for fellow Latinos was contradicted by the respondents’ very strong opposition to the next wave of illegal Latino immigrants, who tend to be lower-skilled and may drag down wages for Latinos living in the United States.

Fifty-seven percent of all respondents said they would favor “tougher enforcement of the border to keep undocumented immigrants from coming into the U.S. illegally,” said the poll.

Fifty-nine percent of registered Latino voters said the nation should have a goal of “stopping 90 percent of the undocumented immigration in the future.”

The detailed data shows the 90 percent goal is more supported by people who are well integrated into American society.

It is supported by only 44 percent of unregistered independents, 51 percent of people who use English and Spanish equally, 51 percent of people who earn less than $50,000 a year, 47 percent of singles, 52 percent of Latino immigrants, 50 percent of Mexicans-Americans and 45 percent of Californian Latinos.

In contrast, better-integrated Latinos were much likelier to support the 90 percent goal.

It won 62 percent among citizens, and 59 percent among Latinos who rarely speak Spanish, 60 percent among Latinos who earn more than $50,000 a year, 59 percent among college grads, 57 percent among marrieds, and 57 percent among registered independents. It won 63 percent support among Puerto Ricans, 72 percent support among Cuban-Americans, and 59 percent among non-Mexican “other” Hispanics.

The 90 percent goal was supported by 73 percent of Latino Republicans, and 57 percent of registered Democrats and independents.

But the poll shows that only a minority of Latinos are well integrated into U.S. society, partly because millions of Latinos illegally crossed the the border during the 1990s and 2000s.

For example, only 24 percent of all respondents speak only English at home, only 41 percent conducted the poll interview in English, only 37 percent were born in the United States, only 43 percent were citizens and only 23 percent said they were graduates of two-year or four-year colleges.

Among registered voters, only one-third speak English at home, one-third earn more than $50,000 a year, one-third are college graduates, and one-half were born in the United States. One third described themselves as conservatives and only 54 percent conducted the survey in English.

The respondents in the survey titled strongly Democrat.

Only 15 percent of the registered respondent described themselves as Republican, while 60 percent described themselves as Democrats. Sixty-four percent described themselves as pro-life and only 47 percent opposed changing marriage rules to allow single-sex marriage.

The McLaughlin poll is corroborated by the other surveys. For example, 75 percent of Hispanics prefer big government to small government, according to a April 2012 Pew poll.

In November, 71 percent voted for President Barack Obama, and only 27 percent pulled the lever for Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

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