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Poll: 'Sharp reversal' for Obama with Latino voters

  • Story Highlights
  • Pew Hispanic Center poll taken from June 9-July 13 of Latino voters
  • Poll shows an overwhelming majority support Barack Obama over John McCain
  • Obama "appears to be even more popular" with Latinos than Sen. Clinton, poll finds
  • Issues like education, health care and jobs rank high amongst this voting bloc
  • Next Article in Politics »
By Ed Hornick
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new poll released Thursday shows overwhelming support from Latinos for Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. John McCain.

A new poll out Thursday shows strong support for Sen. Barack Obama among Latinos.

A new poll out Thursday shows strong support for Sen. Barack Obama among Latinos.

Obama's approval rating with registered Latino voters, the nationwide Pew Hispanic Center poll found, is at 66 percent versus 23 percent favoring McCain.

Obama's "strong showing in this survey represents a sharp reversal in his fortunes from the primaries, when Obama lost the Latino vote to Hillary Clinton by a margin of nearly 2-to-1," according to Pew Hispanic Center associate director Mark Hugo Lopez.

Obama's favorability among Latinos is slightly up from a Gallup Poll summary of surveys taken in May, which showed Obama with 62 percent of Latino voters nationwide, compared with 29 percent for McCain.

"He now appears to be even more popular than Hillary Clinton among Latinos," Lopez said.

Pew Hispanic Center's deputy director, Susan Minushkin, added that Obama is "enjoying broad-based support among Hispanics who don't see great differences by age, by gender, by education, by income." Video Watch more of Minushkin's analysis »

In comparison, a CNN "poll of polls" from July 16, shows Obama holding a 6-point lead over McCain among general registered voters.

It shows Obama at 47 percent and McCain at 41 percent; about 12 percent said they are undecided.

The poll of polls includes surveys from Gallup, CBS/NY Times, ABC/Washington Post, Quinnipiac, and Newsweek.

The survey also shows more than three quarters of Latinos who said they voted for Clinton in the primaries, now indicate they are likely to vote for Obama in the general election.

On Super Tuesday, Obama received only 38 percent of the Latino vote, while former rival Sen. Clinton received 58 percent, according to CNN exit polling.

Only 8 percent said they are likely to vote for the presumptive GOP presidential candidate. Read the full poll (pdf)

"This means that Obama is doing better among Hispanic Clinton supporters than he is among non-Hispanic white Clinton supporters, 70 percent of whom now say they have transferred their allegiance to Obama while 18 percent say they plan to vote for McCain," Lopez said, referring to a recent Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said past voting history among Hispanics has favored Democrats.

"Since 1972, Democratic candidates for president have, on average, won 64 percent of the Hispanic vote. So a 66 percent mark for Obama is pretty much what you would expect a Democratic candidate to get from Latinos," he said.

The poll, taken June 9-July 13, also examined the effect of race in the 2008 election.

By a margin of about 3-to-1 respondents said Obama's race would help him as opposed to hurt him with Latino voters. Fifty-three percent said his race wouldn't be a big factor in their support.

By a margin of 2-to-1 respondents said McCain's race will hurt rather than help his chances. Fifty-eight percent said McCain's race will "make no difference."

The survey shows kitchen table issues like education, jobs and health care weigh heavy on Latino voters.

Ninety-three percent of those surveyed said education was the top issue, followed by jobs, 91 percent, and health care, 90 percent.

"By a margin of 3-to-1, Hispanic registered voters believe that Obama will do a better job than McCain of dealing with education, jobs ... health care," Lopez said.

In comparison, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Poll taken June 26-29 of registered voters ranked election issues:

  • Economy: 58 percent
  • Iraq: 50 percent
  • Gas prices: 48 percent
  • Health care: 47 percent
  • Education: 44 percent
  • Immigration: 34 percent
  • The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

    Obama and McCain have spent much of their campaigns appealing to Latino voters -- appearing at several Latino conferences and through outreach appeals.

    Obama supported President Bush-backed immigration legislation, which would have increased funding and improved border security technology, improved enforcement of existing laws, and provided a legal path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants.

    The Illinois senator also voted to authorize construction of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.

    McCain has been popular among Hispanics as one of the original authors of what's known as the comprehensive immigration bill in the Senate.

    That legislation would have increased funding and improved border security technology, improved enforcement of existing laws, and provided a legal path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants.

    McCain also voted to authorize construction of a U.S.-Mexican border fence.

    Latinos are an important voting bloc to both Democrats and Republicans, representing 9 percent of the eligible electorate and 15 percent of the total U.S. population.

    But it appears this year more Latino voters are energized by the historic election.

    Seventy-eight percent of Latino registered voters say they are following the election "very or somewhat closely" this year -- up from 72 percent who said the same thing at "this stage of the 2004 campaign."

    "These poll findings, coming on the heels of a spirited Obama-Clinton nomination fight that led to rises in the Latino share of the vote in many Democratic primaries, suggest the Hispanic community is politically energized heading into the fall election campaign," Lopez said.

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    In terms of the state of the country, 70 percent of Latino registered voters said the country is headed in the wrong direction. Fifty-five percent said the Democratic Party is "better attuned to the concerns of their community" compared to 5 percent for Republicans.

    The Pew Hispanic Center telephone survey of 2015 Hispanics ages 18 and older -- 892 of whom said they were registered to vote -- had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.

    All About Pew Hispanic CenterHispanic and Latino Issues

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