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Support for War Grows Among Hispanics, Poll Shows
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, 52 percent.

"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.

Copyright Reuters 2002. All rights reserved.


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