Hispanics' varying views yield
A poll commissioned by The Herald
shows that Hispanic Americans differ widely on views and
values and are not a monolithic target for political
Pro-choice, born-again Christians who support the death
penalty and speak more English than Spanish at home? Not a
typical portrait of Hispanic voters.
But according to a new nationwide poll commissioned by
The Herald, a surprising number of Hispanics fit one or all
of those categories. The revelations come as both major
political parties are trying to court Hispanics for a boost
in November's election.
Besides a snapshot of Hispanic political inclinations,
the Herald/Zogby International Hispanic Poll shows that
Hispanic values and ideals are just as fluid and diverse as
the many Latino communities across the United States.
''It has always intrigued me that Hispanics agree with
Democrats on issues, but with Republicans on values,'' said
John Zogby, who polled 1,000 likely Hispanic voters last
For example, Hispanic voters overwhelmingly support the
death penalty, prayer in schools and privatization of Social
Security. About half of those polled are also pro-choice on
the abortion issue, despite their Roman Catholic background,
and support the idea of prohibiting undocumented immigrants
from receiving government aid such as food stamps and
GOOD EDUCATION, PAY
Despite some major hurdles to overcome, such as language
and discrimination, Hispanic voters are also well educated,
well paid and politically moderate. Of those polled, 67
percent earned more than $35,000 a year, 75 percent had at
least some college credits, and 64 percent described
themselves as moderate to very conservative, with only 30
percent calling themselves liberal or progressive.
Of those polled, 58 percent are Mexican American, 10
percent Puerto Rican and 3.4 percent Cuban American. The
margin of error for the entire poll is 3.2 percentage
Most Hispanic voters are also unhappy with President
Bush's policy toward Latin America, an issue that 91 percent
''I tend to be conservative. I have a lot of mixed
feelings and emotions as far as allowing open borders,''
said Anthony Ceceña, 50, a San Diego manufacturing
representative who responded to the poll. ``I'm against
undocumented immigrants getting federal aid. I don't think
[Bush] has done anything for Latin America, really.''
Ceceña also thinks Hispanics are a rising force in the
''This country is changing,'' he said. ``We're taking
The poll also shows that most likely Hispanic voters
would put their families before their careers. Zogby posed
the following question: ``If you were offered a promotion
that would cause you to move away from your family and
community, would you accept the job or turn it down?''
Sixty percent said they would turn the offer down, and
the number shoots up to 74 percent if the promotion involves
leaving immediate family members behind for extended
Los Angeles resident and poll respondent Gloria Cruz, 58,
knows this from experience. About four years ago, the
women's-clothing manufacturer for which she worked for 13
years in Los Angeles, Swat Fame Inc., announced that it was
shipping her position to Mexico. The firm gave her a choice:
keep her job and move to Mexico, or get laid off.
DECISION TO STAY PUT
'I said, `I've spent many years here, I have a family and
I've been married for a long time. I'm not going to do it,'
'' she said.
Cruz also remembers when she was standing in a
grocery-store line and the store manager handed out coupons
to the two non-Hispanic white women ahead of her because
they had been waiting so long. The manager didn't offer her
In the poll, 49 percent of Hispanic voters said they have
experienced discrimination because of their ethnicity.
''I went to her after and told her that she was
prejudiced,'' Cruz said of her grocery-store experience.
``She thought I was a maid. But I am a very positive person,
and I stick up for myself.''
A surprising number of Hispanic voters, about 18 percent,
described themselves as Protestant. And of those, 71 percent
labeled themselves born-again Christians, a group that
heavily supports George W. Bush and is pro-life.
''That's a little phenomenon that has been snowballing
over the years,'' Zogby said. ``While the overwhelming
majority are Catholic, you are talking about a significant
growth in evangelical [churches]. There's a lot of
proselytizing going on in the Hispanic community.''
Seventy percent of Latino voters speak English at home,
and an additional 10 percent speak Spanish as well. Only 19
percent speak exclusively Spanish at home. This appears to
challenge the view that Hispanics take longer to assimilate
than other ethnic groups.
One of those non-Catholic Hispanics who speaks only
English is Alex Chavez, a third-generation Mexican American
from the Oakland area in California.
Chavez, 27, was raised Episcopalian. He is pro-choice and
thinks that the president has done a bad job on policy
toward Latin America. And he would turn down a promotion if
it took him away from his family.
''For me, it's important to stay where my family is,''
said Chavez, who responded to the survey. ``What you see
more of in the white population is a willingness to relocate
because the family nucleus tends to be a lot smaller.''
The poll also illustrates the stark political difference
between Cuban-American voters in South Florida and Hispanics
around the country. Cuban Americans are mostly Republican,
support President Bush and tend to be more unilateralist
than other Hispanics when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.
Enrique Soto, who lives in Little Havana, told pollsters
that he thinks Bush has done a good job on policy toward
Latin America, even in the case of Cuba. He said Cubans are
more conservative than other Latinos because of their
''Cubans are so conservative because they are victims of
an extreme case of leftism,'' he said. ``The Cuba problem
differentiates us from the rest of Latin Americans.''
All of those nuances make it difficult for Hispanic
voters to be targeted as a monolithic voting bloc and
''The Hispanic community,'' Zogby said, ``is a dynamic,
fluid section of the voting electorate.''