Despite being more favorable to Democrats than Republicans, Hispanic voters are open to persuasion this November due to concern over current Democrat policies on spending, debt and national security, according to Resurgent Republic’s latest national survey among 800 registered likely Hispanic voters conducted March 7-10, 2010.
Signifying a potential shift in the national electorate, Hispanic voters are troubled by the direction of the country and very concerned about the economy. Hispanic voters are responsive to conservative fiscal messages, centered on the reduction of spending and record deficits. On health care reform, they believe President Obama’s top priority is increasing coverage while their own priority is lowering costs, a noteworthy disconnect after a year-long debate.
This demographic group is also skeptical about two of President Obama’s key national security policies, closing the facility at Guantanamo Bay and putting 9-11 terrorists on trial in New York City instead of a military tribunal.
There are also some notable areas of concern for Republicans in this survey. Hispanic voters are more likely to identify as Democrats, and they have solid favorable views of President Obama and Democrats in Congress. In addition, Hispanic voters are more likely to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt as a majority believes he has met or exceeded their expectations since taking office. On immigration reform, a majority of Hispanic voters favor a comprehensive solution and do not believe Democrats plan to use immigration reform as a political issue.
Congressman A says the nation’s high level of debt is a temporary response to an economic crisis, and can only be addressed after the economy turns around, OR
Congressman B says the nation’s high level of debt is a serious burden that will limit economic growth in this country for our children and grandchildren, and must be addressed now.
A strong majority (61 percent) of Hispanic voters select that the debt is a serious burden, including 45 percent who “strongly” believe this. The argument made by Congressman B wins majority support among all partisan groups, carrying 79 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Independents, 53 percent of Democrats.
Congressman A says holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay weakens America’s moral authority and isn’t in keeping with our values, OR
Congressman B says holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay helps protect America by keeping terrorists in custody who would kill Americans overseas.
Hispanic voters prefer Congressman B’s more conservative argument, 62 to 32 percent. Congressman B also garnered majority support among all three partisan groups, earning 83 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Independents, and 54 percent of Democrats.
On the issue of holding terrorism trials in New York City, Hispanic voters were asked to choose between the following statements:
Congressman A says putting suspected 9-11 terrorists on trial in New York City instead of a military tribunal is a good idea, because it shows that America provides the same rights to everyone, including those suspected of the worst crimes, and a visible, open trial will prove to the world any convictions are deserved, OR
Congressman B says putting suspected 9-11 terrorists on trial in New York City instead of a military tribunal is a bad idea, because it elevates New York City as a terrorism target, will expose confidential intelligence-gathering methods, and gives terrorists captured on the battlefield the same rights as American citizens.
Again, Hispanic voters agree with Congressman B’s more conservative policy and think putting 9-11 terrorists on trial in New York City is a bad idea, 54 to 39 percent overall, with support of 74 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of Independents. Democrats favor the more liberal argument 48 to 44 percent.
Congressman A says immigration reform should focus on several items including securing the border, and reforming immigration quotas to meet labor demand, OR
Congressman B says a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border should be completed before any other immigration reforms are considered.
Two-thirds (66 percent) of Hispanic voters select focusing on several items, including 40 percent who “strongly” select this option. A majority of all three partisan groups support Congressman A, 56 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Independents and 73 percent of Democrats.
The two choices offered on the issue of temporary worker programs are:
Congressman A says we should consider reforms to temporary worker programs, based on the needs of those businesses that use these programs, OR
Congressman B says all temporary worker programs should be suspended. There are already too many Americans looking for work.
Sixty-one percent (61 percent) of Hispanic voters select reforming temporary worker programs, including 36 percent who “strongly” hold this view.
On the issue of immigration quotas, the two options offered are:
Congressman A says our immigration system needs to have the flexibility to adjust immigration quotas to best serve the needs of the country, OR
Congressman B says no change in the current immigration quotas is needed.
Fully 69 percent of Hispanic voters agree that the immigration system needs flexibility to adjust quotas, including 63 percent of Republicans, 66 percent of Independents, and 75 percent of Democrats.
Regarding a path to citizenship for illegal immigrations, the choices offered are:
Congressman A says illegal immigrants who have no criminal background and meet strict guidelines like registration, paying a fine, and learning English should be allowed to earn citizenship over the course of several years, OR
Congressman B says immigration reform should not include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. There should be no reward for illegal behavior.
Seventy percent (70 percent) of the Hispanic electorate supports illegal immigrants being allowed to earn a path to citizenship, including 53 percent who “strongly” support this argument. A majority of all three partisan groups support Congressman A, 62 percent of Republicans, 62 percent of Independents, and 77 percent of Democrats.
The options offered regarding timing for immigration reform are:
Congressman A says now is a good time to pass immigration reform because the weak economy is not driving so many illegal immigrants to our country and many have actually left, OR
Congressman B says now is not the time to pass immigration reform legislation, when our economy is doing poorly and so many Americans are out of work.
By 56 to 37 percent, Hispanic voters agree with Congressman A that now is a good time for immigration reform, including 50 percent of Republicans, 52 percent of Independents, and 61 percent of Democrats.
On the issue of dealing with illegal immigrants currently here, the options given are:
Congressman A says immigration reform should focus on finding a humane approach to dealing with the 12 million immigrants living in the United States so that they can be brought out of the shadows and live without fear of mistreatment, OR
Congressman B says immigration reform will cause the United States to be overrun by illegal immigrants, overwhelming schools, hospitals, roads, and jails.
Seven-in-ten (69 percent) Hispanic voters believe that reform should focus on a humane approach for dealing with the 12 million illegal immigrants, including 52 percent who “strongly” support this option. Among the partisan groups, 53 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Independents, and 79 percent of Democrats support Congressman A.
Despite these pragmatic sentiments about immigration reform, 55 percent of Hispanic voters say illegal immigrants should not receive medical and health benefits from the government. Fully 76 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Independents agree, while a plurality of Democrats (49 percent) believe illegal immigrants should receive these benefits.
Despite this enthusiasm, Hispanic voters are closely divided (47 to 47 percent) when asked if President Obama has broken his promise to pass immigration reform and when asked if Obama is delaying immigration reform to keep other Democratic interest groups happy (46 percent agree to 48 percent disagree). In addition, a majority of Hispanic voters (57 percent) disagree with the assertion that Democrats in Congress and President Obama plan to use immigration reform only as a political issue and never intend to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The following messages will be well received by Hispanic voters:
All respondents interviewed in this study were part of a fully representative sample of N=800 registered “likely” Hispanic voters nationwide. Responses to this survey were gathered March 7-10, 2010. The confidence interval associated with a sample of this type is ± 3.5% in 19 of 20 cases.