New polling results released today show clear evidence that Latino voters now believe that the anti-immigrant voices in the House are not isolated individuals but that many Republicans in Congress hold these views. When hearing a quote from Republican Mo Brooks, “There is a surefire way to create jobs now for American citizens: evict all illegal aliens from America” 77% of Latino voters said it gives them a less favorable view of the overall Republican Party. After hearing quotes from eight different House Republicans, 66% of Latino voters said the anti-immigrant quotes represent “many Republicans in Congress” compared to 27% who said they represent only a few isolated individuals. [ Full webinar slide deck here | Toplines here ]
Now that the immigration reform debate has moved on to the Republican-controlled House, Latino voters are readily aware that the Republican Party controls the bills future. When asked which party would be to blame if immigration reform does not pass, 69% pointed to Republicans, compared to 13% who would blame Democrats. What’s more, 58% of Latino voters said they would feel personally angry if the immigration bill is blocked, including 51% of Latinos who had previously voted Republican, and 58% of high-income earners, and 59% of Latino college graduates – subgroups of Latino voters the Republican Party can least afford to alienate.
However, the Republican Party does not have to be doomed to such negative views from Latino voters. When asked if they have ever voted Republican for any federal, state or local election, 49% of Latino voters said they had voted Republican at some point in the past. That means about half of all Latinos are possible Republican voters if the party supports issues important to the Latino community. However, they will never achieve the 30% mark again if they continue to be perceived as an anti-immigrant party by Latino voters. When asked how they would respond if Republicans block the comprehensive immigration reform bill, 50% of Latinos said it would make them less likely to vote Republican ever again, including 40% of Latinos who had previously voted Republican. When hearing the quotes from House Republicans who appear to set on blocking immigration reform, large percentages of Latinos think the anti-immigrant quotes speak for “many Republicans in Congress” including 70% of Latino evangelicals who agree, 64% of high-income earners, 62% of college graduates, and notably, 55% of Latinos who have previously voted Republican, think “there are many Republicans in Congress” who hold such anti-immigrant views.
When asked in an open-ended question what their impression of the Republican Party was after hearing these quotes, Latino voters responded that the Republican Party needs to change and become more open-minded. The following are four direct quotes from a sample of our respondents:
“Do not be so harsh, have some heart”
“Their phrases are antiquated and full of ignorance, it’s a disgrace that there are people who think that way”
“Read and learn more about immigrants, many probably don’t know much about immigrants or are being stubborn”
“They are risking the Latino vote. Immigrants are not doing anything bad, all they want to do is work, and without papers they can’t do that”
Finally, after hearing the quotes against immigration reform, we asked Latino voters whether a series of adjective descriptions fairly described the Republican Party, or not. Only 29% of Latino felt the Republican Party “respects the Latino community” while 67% said they did not. In contrast, 50% felt that the phrase “promotes negative stereotypes about Hispanics” described the Republican Party well, including 43% of prior GOP voters who agreed. The responses from Latino voters to this poll make it very clear that the current actions of House Republicans are critical to the overall party’s future viability with Latinos. Latino voters are watching the immigration debates closely, and if the House blocks immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and continues to promote an intolerant message about Latino immigrants, they may never be able to recover and rebuild trust with Latino voters. It is not that immigration is the only issue of concern to Latino voters, but right now, Republicans have created a blockage in their ability to reach out to Latino voters on any issue. It is almost impossible to ask Latinos to support your plan for education reform or taxes, if they think you are the party who compared managing the U.S.-Mexico border to managing cattle: Republican Steve King in talking about the border: “We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that would not kill somebody, but it would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do that with livestock all the time.” Not surprisingly, our poll found that 74% of Latino voters said this quote from Steve King gave them a less favorable view about the Republican Party overall.
About the Poll
Latino Decisions and Hart Research collaborated on the national survey of Latinos, all of whom voted in 2012. The survey was commissioned by SEIU, and was fielded between July 8-12, 2013. A total of 600 Latino voters were interviewed by live callers with randomly selected calls to landline and cell-phone-only households. Respondents could take the survey in English or Spanish, at their discretion and overall 31% answered in Spanish. The margin of error is +/- 4.0%. A complete slide deck from the July 18 webinar can be found here, and full toplines are posted here.