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Latinos are still values voters, but based on a new survey, they appear to be increasingly in favor of keeping abortion legal. And while in 2012, a woman’s right to choose might not be the front-burner issue that it’s been in elections past, the new polling data presents some interesting trends concerning the Latino vote, and suggests that contrary to what many talking heads may say, Latinos are not an homogenous voting block.
According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), which released the survey results last week, the findings show that Latinos hold “more nuanced views” of reproductive rights than previously thought. And interestingly, while another survey by Latino Decisions finds that for 40% of registered Latino voters, a candidate’s religion plays a large factor in their vote, the NLIRH survey finds that nearly 70% of Latino voters are willing to vote against their church’s anti-choice stance.
Latinos conservative socially but invested in right for privacy
The two surveys combined suggest that while Latinos still bring their values into the voting booth, their faith is not one of blind allegiance. The surveys also speak to evolving Latino political sensibilities: as Latinos carry more clout with each election, they emerge as still socially conservative, but also invested in the right to privacy, which for many is the fundamental issue in the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate.
Additionally, for candidates and politicos wishing to draw conclusions from either of the surveys, it’s best to look a bit harder at the data collection. The NLIRH survey included a data pool of 200 respondents in the 25 states with the highest Latino residency. That breaks down to just eight respondents per state, perhaps not a large enough survey set to accurately represent Latino views from state to state.
For example, Republican candidates campaigning in Florida are encountering at least three distinct Hispanic constituencies, and Latinos in the conservative South (Georgia, Florida and North Carolina are included in the survey) may be likely to have different ideologies from Latinos in traditionally more liberal New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. The Latino Decisions survey polled 500 respondents in the five most Latino-populous states, and thus may have achieved a more accurate sampling of opinions.
Why the Republicans may not get the Hispanic vote
As the Republican primaries shake out to a two-horse race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, both anti-abortion candidates, they’ll no doubt continue to jockey for the Hispanic vote. But in the end, their efforts may be for naught.
Despite the growing plurality of Latinos in America, the majority are still Democrats, and are still planning to support Barack Obama in 2012. His support is particularly strong among Latina women, who cite his jobs creation efforts and support of the DREAM Act as key factors in their support. And what any presidential candidate—Democrat or Republican—needs to keep in mind? The Hispanic vote is not easily won, nor does one winner take all.
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