On Monday, the folks at Latino Decisions released a poll of Latino voters showing that in a matchup for the presidency, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would beat Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) 66% to 28%. In a hypothetical matchup against Vice President Joe Biden, Rubio still loses 60% to 28% according to the poll. Essentially, this poll confirms Latino voters’ continued support of the Democrats. However, there were some interesting thing revealed in the data that could help improve outlook for Republican candidates.
One question in the poll asked if voters were more likely to support Marco Rubio for president given his role in helping pass the immigration bill with a pathway to citizenship (Rubio did in fact vote for the Senate immigration bill that provides that pathway for the undocumented), 54% of voters indicate being likely to support him given the qualifier of supporting a path. A similar poll question was asked regarding former Florida Governor Jeb Bush indicating that if he supported a pathway to citizenship (this question was phrased in such a way to show that Bush had not changed his position on the pathway issue), would Latino voters be able to support him as a presidential candidate? And 47% of Latino voters indicated that they would likely consider voting for Jeb Bush for the presidency if he did in fact support a pathway to citizenship.
The poll also showed that immigration reform is considered to be a top issue for Latino (53%) voters followed by fixing the economy and education. 80% of Latino voters who were surveyed said that they are following the news on immigration reform.
This data shows how immigration reform could be a make it or break it issue with Latino voters in upcoming elections, especially if a candidate expresses support for a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. Although it seems that one can still be “tough” on immigration and win favor with Latino voters, and we see this with Latinos strongly supporting President Obama. The Latino Decisions poll shows that President Obama has a 75% approval rating among Latino voters, and President Obama has set records for deportations while indicating in speeches and in policy memos coming from the administration that he supports a path to citizenship.