A new Latino Decisions national poll released June 8, 2012 finds Democrat President Barack Obama with a 43-point margin over Republican Mitt Romney among Latino voters heading in the 2012 Presidential election. Overall, 66% of Latino registered voters were certain or leaning towards Obama, while 23% were certain or leaning towards Romney. Since Latino Decisions began asking about an Obama-Romney match-up in November 2011, Romney has been unable to close the sizable gap. In November 2011, a Latino Decisions/Univision News poll put Obama at 67% to 24% for Romney among Latinos. Now, seven months later our June 2012 poll finds virtually the exact same margin.
DREAM Act vs. DREAM-light
In addition to asking about presidential vote choice, we asked a sample of Latinos, as well as non-Latinos, what they thought about the recent discussion and debate over an alternative DREAM Act proposal being championed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Before all the talk about Rubio’s alternative proposal, the U.S. Senate in 2010 twice voted on the DREAM Act as introduced and supported by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. Because Rubio has not actually drafted his version of the DREAM Act it is difficult to know exactly what his version would, or would not do, but his dozens of public statements on his version of the bill do provide substantial information to work with.
The Latino Decisions survey asked whether or not Latinos and non-Latinos supported two different versions of the DREAM Act, and then comparing the two versions, which was the most preferred policy? The Durbin version of the DREAM Act read: “Do you support or oppose the DREAM Act, which would provide undocumented immigrant youth legal resident status, and eventually a path to citizenship if they attend college or serve in the U.S. Military?” while the Rubio version read: “Do you support or oppose the DREAM Act, which would provide undocumented immigrant youth temporary status on a renewable visa if they attend college or serve in the U.S. Military, but would not put them on a path to citizenship?” Finally, after asking both questions on their own, we asked respondents to compare: “Between these two different versions of the DREAM Act, which do you support more? The version that would allow these undocumented immigrant youth to eventually become citizens, or the version that gives them temporary status and would not put them on a path to citizenship?”
Overall, our survey found 87% of Latinos strongly or somewhat supported the Durbin version of the DREAM Act, compared to just 10% who were strongly or somewhat opposed. In contrast, we find a split on the Rubio version of DREAM with 49% of Latinos in support and 46% opposed. Among non-Latinos, a similar pattern emerges, though support for the DREAM Act is lower than among Latinos. When faced with the Durbin version of the DREAM Act 62% of non-Latinos were in support and 33% were opposed. On the Rubio version non-Latinos were split with 47% in favor and 44% against.
So after hearing each of these two versions of the DREAM Act on their own, we asked respondents to compare the two versions and tell us which, if any they preferred more. Among Latinos, 82% said they preferred the Durbin DREAM Act to only 13% who preferred the Rubio DREAM Act. Likewise, non-Latinos sided with the original version of the bill over the newer alternative that is being discussed by a margin of 61% to 27%.
While it remains unclear whether the House or Senate will actually move either version of these bills forward in the next few months, the Latino Decisions poll finds a clear majority of Latinos, and non-Latinos support the original Durbin-backed DREAM Act that failed to pass in 2010. Indeed, multiple polls on the topic of immigration reform for undocumented youth have found only a small minority of the American public is opposed to a path towards citizenship for DREAM-eligible youth. A Fox News poll reported that a majority of Republicans support the DREAM Act. A poll by ASU found over 70% of Arizonans support the DREAM Act. The Latino Decisions survey released today confirms that the DREAM Act, with a path to citizenship has broad-based and popular support, and that alternative versions recently debated have far less support than the original DREAM Act.
About the Poll
Latino Decisions interviewed 609 Latino adults, and 500 non-Latino adults between May 24 – June 4, 2012 using live telephone callers, sampled across all 50 states. A mix of landline and cell phone-only households were called, and up to 5 attempts was made per number. Latino respondents had the opportunity to complete the survey in either English or Spanish, using fully bilingual callers, and overall 40% of Latinos chose to complete the survey in Spanish. Overall, the Latino sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.9% and the non-Latino sample has a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Among registered voters, the margin of error among Latinos is 4.9%. Additional survey results will be reported next week.