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The GOP’s Latinos are the First Major Voter in the Midterms

The GOP's Latinos are the First Major Voter in the Midterms

Latino voters crucial to Senate, governor races in Arizona, Texas

MADRID (AP) — Latinos are critical voters, both in tight congressional contests and in the governor’s races in Texas and Arizona.

A new USC-LA Times poll of potential 2014 presidential candidates shows the first major Hispanic group likely to cast a ballot, with 31 percent saying they will cast a ballot, compared to 17 percent of all voters.

The poll also shows two of the three top contenders, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, with strong support among Hispanic voters. The other prominent Hispanic contender is President Obama, but support for Obama and the Democratic senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, falls to 16 percent and 8 percent respectively among Hispanics.

The Times poll of 1,002 California adults questioned by phone for a random sample from March 19 to April 7. The margin of error is 2 percentage points for the Hispanic poll and 1.5 percentage points for the national poll.

The biggest challenge for the country’s Hispanic population will be to increase its turnout in November, particularly in midterm elections.

The overall national results on voter turnout among Latinos show voter turnout among Hispanics was slightly lower than for all Americans, at about 61 percent, with a 2.4 percentage point margin of error.

As of Election Day, in the 2012 presidential election, 63 percent of Latinos voted compared to 58 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

The big change in the Hispanic sample this year is that among the 477 potential Hispanic voters surveyed this year, 51 percent said they are “favorable” toward Mitt Romney, and 45 percent are “unfavorable.” While the poll does not allow for a response if the person says “neutral,” it’s clear that these results will be extremely beneficial for the GOP.

Romney’s advantage in the California sample is 2 percentage points among Latinos, and Rubio’s is 1.8 percentage points.

In the Arizona governor’s race, Democrat Jan Brewer leads conservative opponent John McCain 51 percent to 39 percent with Latinos at 18 percent and independents at 20 percent.

“We’re seeing a lot of Latino enthusiasm, the president is helping these guys, we’re seeing a lot of undecided voters and a lot of non-electors, so the Republican candidates are facing a very challenging environment,” said Times polling analyst Mark Hugo Lopez.

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