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Latinos not enthusiastic but likely to vote Democratic, survey says

Latinos, a key part of the Democratic coalition that helped put President Obama in the White House, have the same lack of enthusiasm as other voters but will likely vote Democratic in this year’s midterm election, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The survey, based on bilingual telephone interviews with 1,375 Latinos from Aug. 17 through Sept. 19, shows that 65% of registered Latino voters said they plan to support a Democrat while 22% said they prefer a Republican. That is about the same as the party identification: 62% of Latinos say they favor Democrats and a quarter saying they favor Republicans. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

This year, party identification has taken a back seat to the enthusiasm of the voters. Most polls show that Democrats have an enrollment edge but that the GOP is running ahead in generic ballots because its supporters say they are more motivated to vote, a trend fueled in part by conservative and libertarian anger over a difficult economy, lost jobs and unhappiness with the Obama administration for pushing the health insurance overhaul, Wall Street reform and taxpayer spending to stimulate the economy.

If anything, according to the Pew survey, Latinos appear to be less motivated than other voters. About 32% said they have given this year’s election “quite a lot” of thought, compared to about half of all voters. About 51% of Latinos said they were “absolutely certain” they will vote, compared to 70% of all voters.

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About 44% of those Latinos who consider themselves Republicans said they had given a lot of thought to the election, while just 28% of Latino Democrats said the same, according to the survey.

In 2008, Latinos supported Obama over Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential candidate, by 67% to 31%. The current Pew survey found Latino registered voters approve of Obama’s job performance by 63% to 47%. That’s significantly better than most general polls, which show Obama receiving a favorable grade from less than a majority.

Latinos see Democrats as having more concern about them than Republicans, but the Democratic edge is down to 47% this year from 55% in 2008.

On issues, Latinos cited education, jobs and healthcare as their top concerns, with immigration placing fourth.

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But the survey found that 66% said they had discussed immigration issues with someone in the past year. Those who said they had such conversations were more motivated to vote on Nov. 2, by 58% to 39%.

About 19 million Latinos are eligible to vote. About two-thirds of the voters live in just four states -- California, Texas, Florida and New York -- but Latinos are a growing bloc in other races across the country.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

Twitter.com/LATimes.com


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