A new poll conducted by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice released today reveals that 80% of Arizona Latinos plan to vote for President Obama, with just 14% saying they plan to vote for Mitt Romney; 6% are undecided. U.S. Senate Candidate Richard Carmona has nearly the same commanding lead, with 75% saying the will vote for him, with only 14% planing to vote for Jeff Flake; 13% are undecided. Especially interesting is that 69% said the were “very enthusiastic” about voting this year, and 60% said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in 2008. Why the surge in enthusiasm in Latino voter interest this year? Immigration reform and the DREAM Act were selected at the most important issue to facing Hispanic/Latino community by 55% of respondents, followed by the economy/jobs with 44% . Respondents could select up to two issues, education/school reform (15%) and health care (10%) were the only other issues with double digit results. And it’s personal: 66% of Arizona Latinos know someone who is undocumented, and 55% know someone who may be eligible for the DREAM Act.
Can Arizona be the Nevada of 2012?
What’s especially interesting is that Latino Decisions asks the question: “Why Arizona may be the surprise of 2012 – the big Latino vote that you didn’t see coming”
In 2010, the average of 16 polls of likely voters in Nevada suggested Sharon Angle had a firm 3 point lead, and 538′s Nate Silver gave her an 83.4% chance of winning. On election night, the results showed Harry Reid with a 5 point win — an 8 point difference from the poll averages. Why the error? Almost every statewide poll in Nevada badly missed the Latino vote. In the final analysis, Reid won close to 90% of the Latino vote, and Latino turnout was much higher than anticipated.
Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions suggested to Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog at the NY Times how the polls all missed the impact of the Latino vote in Nevada in 2010: All the major polling firms conduct their polls in English only, while Latino Decisions conducts their polls in both English and Spanish, with the respondent selecting the language in which they prefer the poll to be conducted. The major polling firms missed the Latino voters who prefer to speak Spanish. About 40 percent of Latino voters in California meet this description, with likely similar numbers in Nevada and Arizona. Mr. Silver compiled results from the eight states with the largest share of Latinos in their population: these are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Texas. He found that in 10 of the 15 races, the polling average underestimated the Democrat’s margin by at least 2.5 points. He concluded that there was the beginnings of a pattern — and considering how rapidly the Latino population is growing, it’s one that pollsters are going to need to address. That was right after the November 2010 election. And less than a month away from the 2012 election, the major polling firms still haven’t addressed that, still conduct their polls in English only, and are likely under representing Latino voters in places like Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and elsewhere.
Do I think President Obama can carry Arizona in this election? Frankly, no – while I do believe the Latino vote is significantly under represented in polls, it’s still too steep a hill to climb for this year. Do I care? Frankly, no – this Presidential election will likely be all over before our votes are starting to be tallied, decided in places like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire and Iowa. But after a combined 32 years of Arizona being represented in the U.S. Senate by the likes of John McCain and Jon Kyle, I care very much about Arizona finally electing a Senator who will strengthen and protect our middle class, care about the disadvantaged, and represent all Arizonans, instead of electing yet another career politician deep into the pockets of corporations and billionaires. I care very much about Arizona electing Richard Carmona our next U.S. Senator.
I also care very much about, and am confident that after this election we will have two new Congresswomen, Ann Kirkpatrick (CD1) and Kyrsten Sinema (CD9), joining Ron Barber, Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor for a 5/4 Democratic majority in Arizona’s Congressional delegation.