A Slide For Obama Among Hispanics?

By Chris Good

While President Obama's popularity has slipped in general, the trend has been more pronounced among Hispanics, a demographic group that helped him defeat John McCain in '08. Two surveys this week, in particular--with very low Hispanic sample sizes, it should be noted--indicate that the president has lost ground among the nation's largest minority group, comprising 15 percent of the population.

The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll released yesterday reported that, while Obama's approval rating remains at a relatively high 61 percent among Hispanics, that's down 21 percent from the April 2009 figure of 81 percent. Hispanic support for the president has dropped more than white support (-15 percent) and black support (-2 percent) over the same time span.

And 41 percent of Hispanics said Obama isn't paying enough attention to the concerns of Hispanics, according to a Pew survey (focusing primarily on blacks' attitudes toward race, released on Tuesday).

Keep in mind that demographic breakdowns of opinion can be difficult to rely on when dealing with polls that query a full cross-section of Americans, or of likely voters: the Heartland Monitor poll surveyed 144 Hispanics, while Pew surveyed 376. For Pew, that means a +/- 7.5 percent margin of error.

So these data are far from a certain conclusion--hence the question mark in the headline--just something to think about. Even at the extreme end of Pew's margin of error, however, the report indicates that a third of Hispanics think President Obama isn't paying enough attention to them.

Obama enjoyed the support of 67 percent of Hispanics on Election Day in 2008, according to New York Times exit polling--and Hispanic votes were contested hard by John McCain, who aired Spanish language radio ads in states with high Hispanic populations, vying for their vote.

At some point (in 2010?) the White House will begin a push for immigration reform, and that should help them among Hispanics (especially those who say they're not paying attention to Hispanic issues). Democrats showed some momentum in capturing Hispanic votes in 2008, and, as the Hispanic population grows, it's an increasingly important demographic. If Democrats pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, they could cement that electoral advantage; until then, it looks like the numbers are slipping a bit.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/01/a-slide-for-obama-among-hispanics/33622/