Statewide Poll Of Latino Voters In California Brings Upcoming National & State Elections Into Clearer Focus

A recently completed poll of Hispanic California voters revealed critical data regarding the concerns of the Latino community. The Latino Decisions California Poll is coming on the heels of a recently concluded poll of Latino voters in Nevada. The same poll is now getting underway in Florida, all as part of an effort to understand the Latino electorate, State by State, in those States where the Latino electorate will have a high impact on election results.

Among the findings of the California poll, conducted in early August 2007, were:

  • Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead over her Democratic rivals among Latino registered voters in California. Clinton was the choice of 59% of self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaners, Obama was second with just 8% while New Mexico Governor and fellow Latino Bill Richardson was third with 5% and John Edwards fourth with 4%. Over 22% remain undecided. Name recognition played an important role. Over 62% of all respondents could recall the name Hillary Clinton as a candidate, whereas 27% could name Obama. No other candidate’s percentages exceeded single digits.
  • Name recognition of GOP candidates is shockingly low and suggests that the party has little presidential traction among California’s Latino voters, 15 months out from the election. Giuliani’s name was recalled by only 16% of the respondents, and no other GOP candidate or potential candidate had double-digit recognition. McCain’s name was recalled by just 7% and Romney by 3%.
  • In hypothetical head-to-head match-ups against the two leading declared Republican candidates, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both Clinton and Obama do extremely well. Among all Latino voters without regard to partisanship, Clinton outpolls Giuliani 60 to 17% (22% undecided), and she leads Romney 62% to 9% (29% undecided). Obama outpolls Giuliani 49% to 14% (36% undecided), and leads Romney 49 to 9% (42% undecided).
  • Eliminating the undecided (and decline-to-state), Clinton receives between 78 and 87% of the two party vote against potential GOP rivals among those currently holding a preference. Obama’s share ranges from 78 to 84% of the two party vote.
  • President Bush is viewed somewhat or very unfavorably by 68%, while Democrats in Congress are viewed favorably (somewhat or very) by 60%.
  • Voting Issues—when asked which issues would be most important in their presidential vote, California Latinos overwhelmingly identified the War in Iraq (30%) and Immigration Policy (28%) as their biggest concerns, with Education (21%), Jobs and the Economy (15%) and Health Care (10%) rounding out the top 5.
  • On the War, 79% report feeling that the War was “not worth fighting,” while the overwhelming policy preference was for immediate withdrawal (62%) or beginning withdrawal (24%). Just 4% favor the current policy, while another 6% favor escalation.
  • On Immigration, 42% favor amnesty for those currently in the country, while another 30% favor some form of earned legalization and a path to citizenship. Only 18% favor a temporary guest worker program, and 5% favor declaring illegal immigrants felons and deporting them.

The poll was extensive, with 19 minutes of questions which covered a wide variety of national and state issues, and dug into the motivations behind the opinions. Topics included:

  • The main reasons for Hilary Clinton’s popularity among Latino voters
  • Which public figures’ and interest groups’ endorsements would most sway their votes
  • Matching Republican and Democratic hopefuls in hypothetical Presidential races
  • Demographics indicating how California Latinos fit in to the American voter profile

The researchers also drew upon data from the recently completed Nevada study to understand how responses differ between the two States, and what is driving those differences.