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Pew: Hispanic community upset with status quo

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

Even as the Democratic Party continues to enjoy the Hispanic community’s support heading into the 2012 election year, the Pew Hispanic Center finds that only 45% of Hispanic voters identified the Democratic Party as the more concerned party (for their interests), while 12% picked the Republican Party.

It’s a lopsided result to be sure. However, the trend should concern Democrats.  The percentage of Latinos who say that the Democratic party displays greater concern has declined by 10 points since 2008.

During this same time, the percentage of Hispanic voters who said that the Republican Party has demonstrated more concern increased, but only by a mere 6% since 2008. Simply put, this is hardly a stat to flaunt if the GOP hopes to attract more Hispanics to the party.

Generally speaking, Hispanic sentiment toward the Democratic and Republican parties should be a cause of concern for the political establishment. These poll numbers may reflect the fact that Hispanic voters feel that both major parties are out of touch when it comes to addressing their community's key interests.

Hispanics also seem to be growing frustrated with the two-party gridlock.  33% said there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans, compared to 12% who believed otherwise. In addition, 56%  said that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Heading into the 2012 election, Pew finds that President Obama has strong Hispanic support in hypothetical match ups against both Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. However, there’s no denying that the President’s approval rating has suffered with the Latino demographic. It’s now down to 49% compared to 58% in 2010.  While the President’s aggressive immigration policy might have something to do with the drooping poll numbers,  it’s not the whole story.  Hispanics are also concerned with issues such as the economy followed by education, healthcare, taxes, and the federal deficit- all of which rank higher than the immigration issue. Perhaps not coincidentally, this priority list is quite similar to that of independent voters.

Given that the Hispanic voting bloc has become critical for electoral success at the national level, the community's discontent would appear to pose an increasing threat to the status quo.  If the political establishment is not careful, the nation's largest minority may jump ship and join the burgeoning Independent movement.

The Pew Hispanic Center’s survey was conducted from November 9- December 7, 2011 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It included a randomly selected , nationally representative sample of 1220 Latino adults, 557 of whom said they are registered to vote. It had a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percentage points for the full sample and +/- 5.2 percentage points for the registered voter sample.

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