67% Hispanics support Obama
HISPANIC Americans, the fastest growing minority group in the United States, favour President Barack Obama over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney by a huge margin, a potentially decisive factor in the November 6 election.
Hispanics are critical because of the complex stateby- state system for choosing the US president.
They could tip the vote in the president’s favour in key swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida. What’s more, the Hispanic vote could put once-solidly Republican Arizona in play for Obama.
First Lady Michelle Obama was in Arizona on Monday, testing the waters for her husband at a fundraiser. She also stopped in three other heavily Hispanic states in the US southwest‚ Colorado, Nevada and reliably Democratic New Mexico. Vice President Joe Biden also was in Arizona two weeks ago, courting voters who last settled on a Democrat for president when Bill Clinton won re-election in 1996.
Hispanic voters historically have sided with Democratic presidential candidates out of a sense that the party best handled the immigration issue, which tops their list of concerns.
They appear to be sticking with Obama despite his record-setting deportation of illegal immigrants. The Department of Homeland Security shows that since 2009 the number of deportations has approached 400,000 each year, well above the number during the George W Bush presidency.
In the latest poll by the Pew Research Centre for the People & the Press, Obama overwhelms Romney by 67 percent to 27 percent among Hispanic registered voters.
That support matches the 67 percent of the Hispanic vote Obama captured in 2008.
Romney has alienated many Hispanics with his support of Arizona’s tough new immigration law as ‘a model’ for the nation.
The initiative, approved in 2010, has been denounced by Hispanic and immigration rights groups as extreme.
Challenges to the law recently were argued before the Supreme Court, where both liberal and conservative justices indicated they were not in favour of overturning the measure.
During Republican primary debates, Romney said that “the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona. ... I’ll also complete the (border) fence.
I’ll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence, and I’ll make sure we ... require employers to check the documents of workers.” Romney also opposes the Democrats’ Dream Act legislation that would allow a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants if they serve in the military or go to college.
Romney’s positions put him to the right even of Republican opponents Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. He now faces the challenge of finding a way to shift toward the centre if he is to have any hope with Hispanic voters.
Obama carried Colorado, Nevada and Florida in 2008, and keeping those states in his column could prove essential in this year’s voting.
With six months remaining before the vote, national polls show the president and Romney in a very close race, with the struggling economy the top issue. That should be especially important to Hispanics, who have 11 percent unemployment while the overall jobless rate is 8.2 percent.
Perhaps the biggest question about Hispanic preferences arises in Florida, one that could prove key to the hopes of both candidates.