Loyal Calbuzz readers know we have hammered on immigration – and especially the issue of a pathway to citizenship — time and time and time again. We’ve cited polls by Pew, PPIC, Field and even one by Republicans Marty Wilson and Bob Moore in which one-third of Latino voters said they would never vote for a Republican.
But we are shocked – pleasantly we might add – to be able to add to this list of surveys a poll of 1,200 likely Latino voters done Feb. 10-25 by Latin Insights for, of all clients, Fox News.
We don’t know how Latin Insights picked their likely voters, we don’t know anything about their telephone methodology, their sampling or their weighting, and we don’t have access to their data set or complete crosstabs. But the results are so at odds with the broad sentiments of the survey’s sponsor that they merit serious analysis.
The electoral top lines of this survey have been reported by Fox and others: among Latinos, President Obama’s approval is 73%, including 66% on health care, 58% on the economy and 45% on immigration. He beats Mitt Romney 70-14%, Rick Santorum 69-14% and Newt Gingrich 72-14%.
Some 51% of likely Latino voters say they’re conservative and 39% say they’re liberal. But they rate the Democratic Party 65-21% favorable and the Republican Party 60-25% unfavorable. Seven in 10 Latino likely voters identify with the Democratic Party and just 16% with the Republican Party.
They say they trust the Democrats more than the Republicans to do a better job on immigration policies 64-11%; support small business owners 64-12%; represent the view of Latinos 63-12%; help Latinos achieve the American Dream 60-10%; respect traditional values 55-16% and create good-paying jobs 53-16%.
Right facts, wrong conclusion: Immigration is cited as the most important issue by just 12% of voters, following the economy and jobs at 49% and education and health care at 15% each. About 56% say open borders would hurt the country, but 81% say undocumented workers expand the economy and 51% say the country’s immigration policy is too strict.
It’s that Latinos, like others, rate the economy and jobs as the top issue (along with the high proportion of Latinos who say they’re conservative), that gets Republicans all confused. That, they argue, means all we have to do is show them that we’re better for them on the issue they care about the most, and they’ll vote for us.
Here are the strongest numbers in the Fox News survey:
— Do you think undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were children should be eligible to legalize their status if they attend college or serve in the military? Yes: 90%; No: 7%; Don’t know: 3%
— In general, do you favor or oppose providing undocumented immigrants currently in the United States a path to citizenship? Favor: 85%; Oppose: 10%; Don’t know 5%
The Republican Party’s failure to adapt to the demographic realities of the United States and to accommodate the changing population with an immigration policy that affords dignity and hope to Latinos is not a new issue.
Wisest of GOP wise men: In November, it will have been 15 years since Stu Spencer, the most important adviser and manager of Ronald Reagan’s political ascendancy, wrote a memo titled “Wake-up Call for GOP,” in which he warned: “We are dramatically losing market share of the fastest growing segment of the electorate . . . The stakes are too high for us to act like political ostriches and ignore the challenges we face.”
But by allowing themselves to be horse-whipped by anti-immigrant border fanatics, GOP elders have failed – year in and year out – to take a stand in primary elections that does not doom them in the general election. Which is exactly what is happening this year to Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.
No, immigration is not the most important issue to Latino voters, as we have noted over and over again. But by taking the stands they have — against the Dream Act and a pathway to citizenship, by supporting a requirement that would-be voters produce photo ID to prove US citizenship (opposed 72-23%) and by calling for a crack-down on illegal immigration when more than half of Latino voters say US policy is too strict now – Republicans are indeed political ostriches. And Latinos don’t care what they have to say about the “important” issues.
Mittens hearts eMeg: If he winds up, as we long ago predicted he might, campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in California, the Mitt Romney who has said he would veto the Dream Act and who advocates “self-deportation,” might morph again on the issue of immigration. If he wants to have any hope among Latinos in the general election, that is.
But if – like his political protégé Meg Whitman did in the 2010 governor’s race – he believes he has to play to the right-wing base of the GOP, Romney may double down on self-deportation and killing the Dream Act.
Which is one of the reasons he’ll never be president.