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Survey: GOP gains among Hispanics


America's 38 million Hispanics form a highly diverse population that historically has favored the Democratic Party, but that support has declined in recent years.

Interviews with 1,150 Hispanic Americans conducted over 10 years by the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University showed that Hispanics are now more likely to describe themselves as independent or to identify with the Republican Party.

"Latinos do still self-identify with the Democratic Party. But more and more — lacking any substantive outreach effort — it is going to be harder for the Democratic Party to be certain that that support is going to be there for them in the future," said Clarissa Martinez, director of voter programs for the National Council of La Raza.

Between 1994 and 1999, a series of polls conducted by the Scripps Center found that 54 percent of Hispanics identified themselves as "strong" or "leaning" toward the Democratic Party, 25 percent were independent and 21 percent were "strong" or "leaning" toward the Republican Party.

But in surveys conducted from 2000 through this year, Hispanics shifted slightly, with 48 percent identifying with the Democrats, 29 percent describing themselves as independent of party loyalties and 23 percent identifying with the GOP.

"Whoever ultimately wins the Hispanic vote is going to dominate American politics," said Arizona educator John Sperling, founder of University of Phoenix.

Sperling said the Hispanic vote is geographically fragmented with significant Republican support in Texas and Florida.

Both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry have been campaigning vigorously for the Hispanic vote, recording television and radio ads in Spanish and employing large numbers of Hispanic operatives throughout Texas, California and Florida.

Martinez said the GOP has made inroads among Hispanics in recent years.

"President Bush obviously had done a lot of work to reach out to the Hispanic community. But there has also been some very visible outreach efforts by New York Gov. (George) Pataki and by (Gov.) Jeb Bush in Florida to take issues of concern to the Latino voters," she said.

"Now Latinos are willing to do some ticket-splitting."

The Scripps Center surveys found Hispanics differ from other Americans in some surprising ways.

Since many have fled poverty and political repression in Central and South America, they are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to be optimistic that America is "on the right track."

They are America's poorest, least educated and hardest-working minority group.

Sixty-two percent of Hispanics in recent polls were employed full time, well above the general employment rate for most other adult residents of the United States.

Because many are young immigrants, Hispanics as a group are more likely than most Americans to be single and to never have had children.

Only 40 percent are married with children in the latest surveys, compared to 51 percent of the nation as a whole.

Hispanics also are less likely to attend organized religious services or to profess a "born again" Christian religious faith than are most Americans.

Forty-one percent said they have attended church in the last week, and 33 percent said they consider themselves to be "spiritually born again" by their faith, below the national averages of 45 percent and 39 percent, respectively.

"There can be a lot of elements that affect this. After all, there are many places where churches don't have worship services in Spanish, so immigrant Latinos feel they don't have anyplace to go," Martinez said.

The findings are based on the results of 24 national surveys conducted from 1994 through this year. The Scripps Survey Research Center is directed by Ohio University professor emeritus Guido H. Stempel III and was funded by a grant from the Scripps Foundation.

For more survey results, go to www.newspolls.org

Copyright 2004 Birmingham Post Co. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission from the editor is prohibited.

Poll: Bush's Surprising Latino Draw
Friday, May 21, 2004
A new poll shows Latino voters in the United States divided in their support for George Bush and John Kerry, six months before the U.S. presidential election.

Sergio Bendixen & Associates, a Miami-based polling firm with close ties to the Democratic Party surveyed 1,800 registered Latino voters, 600 in Florida, and 400 each in the southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

The overall results give Senator Kerry an edge with Latino voters in all three southwestern states. However President Bush leads in Florida which he won by 537 votes in the 2000 election.

In Florida, President Bush leads Mr. Kerry 55 percent to 35 percent, similar to the results in 2000, when he received 61 percent of Florida's Hispanic vote to Vice-President Al Gore's 39 percent.

Cuban-Americans are a majority of Florida's Hispanic population and President Bush counts them among his strongest supporters. However Scott Gardner a research analyst at Bendixen & Associates says within the Cuban-American vote, strong differences are emerging this year.

"The Cubans born in Cuba are supporting Mr. Bush with 80 percent of the vote, and 12 percent for John Kerry," he said. "The U.S. born are supporting Mr. Kerry with 54 percent, and only 33 percent for the president."

That points to a generational divide within the Cuban-American community says Mr. Gardner who notes that Democrats like Bill Clinton have also done well with Cuban-American voters.

Based on the latest polling data, Scott Gardner says it would be a mistake to assume that any one political party enjoys overwhelming support from Cuban-American voters.

"We decided that that now the younger Cubans and the U.S. born Cubans are not as loyal to the Republican Party as they used to be," said Mr. Gardner. "So, the image that Cubans are all for the Republican Party, well the new generations are making up their own minds."

Bush campaign officials say they are working to capture at least 40 percent of the Hispanic vote nationally in November. Kerry campaign associates say the Massachusetts senator hopes to take away at least five percent of the Cuban American vote from Mr. Bush in Florida, while holding traditional Democratic Latino constituencies in the state such as Puerto Ricans.

The latest poll from Bendixen and Associates indicates that nationally the Latino vote is far from decided with 40 percent of those polled saying they had not made up their minds yet who they will vote for in November.



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Last modified: 03/04/05