Support for War Grows Among Hispanics,
Tue April 08, 2003 03:31 PM ET
By Pablo Bachelet
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hispanics now back the Iraq war more
enthusiastically than they did a few months ago, a Pew Hispanic
Center poll released on Tuesday showed, closing the gap with the
overall United States population.
The numbers showed support is strongest among Latinos born in
the United States, reflecting a closing of the ranks behind the
war effort by the country's largest minority group.
A full 61 percent of Hispanics said they supported the war and
27 percent were opposed, according to the April 3-6 survey,
compared with a 70 percent backing and 27 percent opposition in
the general public, according to a March 29 Gallup/CNN poll.
By contrast, only 48 percent of the total Latino population
favored the use of U.S. ground troops to remove Saddam Hussein
from power in a February poll, when 63 percent of the overall
population supported the invasion.
The number also revealed rifts within the Hispanic community,
with support for the war far stronger among those born in the
United States, 75 percent, than among the foreign-born Hispanics,
"The U.S.-born is now fully in line with the population as a
whole," said Roberto Suro, the director of the Pew Hispanic
Center. "There's a rallying-behind-the-flag effect, and you see
that very notably among U.S.-born Latinos."
In February, while a majority of Latinos born in the United
States backed the invasion, their support still ran about 10
percentage points behind the overall population.
The 37-million strong Hispanic community is actively courted by
politicians on both sides of the political aisle. In what could
bode well for President Bush in the 2004 presidential elections,
68 percent of Hispanics consider Bush is doing an "excellent" or
"good" job in handling the conflict, closely mirroring sentiment
among the general U.S. population.
Hispanics also make up a growing component of the U.S. armed
forces. Recent Pentagon numbers show that 8.7 percent of the armed
forces are of Hispanic descent. Latino casualties, which were high
in the initial stages of the war, have been widely reported in the
Hispanic and general media.
The telephone poll, conducted among 500 adults in English and
Spanish, also revealed that skepticism toward the war was higher
among Hispanics who watched mostly Spanish-language media, which
is popular among newer immigrants.
A full 86 percent of the Hispanics who watched English-language
media said the war was going "very well" or "fairly well." The
Hispanics who held that view fell to 59 percent among those who
watched Spanish channels like Univision and Telemundo.
The survey was carried out for Pew Hispanic by Bendixen &
Associates, a polling company based in Miami, and has a margin of
error of plus or minus four percent. Nearly 58 percent of those
polled were born outside the United States.