Pollster: Democrats Should Bait GOP on Latino Issues

BY Maria Lopez Conde  May 29, 2012 at 5:48 PM EDT

With polls showing two-thirds of Latino voters supporting President Barack Obama for re-election, the Republican Party faces an uphill battle to capture the Hispanic electorate in November. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll released last week shows that less than a third of Latinos, 27 percent, are planning to back the presumptive GOP nominee, Mitt Romney.

The Democrats have been leading the way in reaching out to this growing group of voters, set to make up around 10 percent of the electorate at the end of this year. Mr. Obama has already spent $1 million on Spanish-language media over the last couple of weeks in states with growing Latino populations such as Florida, Colorado and Nevada. On the other hand, the Romney campaign has only just made its first Hispanic media buy, bringing the presumed GOP nominee’s Spanish-language media investments to $13,000.

During a primary campaign marked by tough talk on immigration on the Republican side, Romney stood firmly against amnesty for illegal immigrants as well as the DREAM Act, a bill that allows states to offer in-state tuition to the undocumented children of illegal immigrants.

Tuesday’s NewsHour broadcast will feature a Gwen Ifill report from Colorado on Latinos and the 2012 presidential race. Gwen interviewed Gary Segura, a Stanford University political science professor who is a principal at the polling firm Latino Decisions.

Segura detailed the growth of the Latino electorate in states like Wisconsin and Virginia, and said both of the campaigns could do more to gain the support of these key voters.

“The path for victory for the Democrats with respect to Latino voters is baiting the Republicans into saying awful things,” he said. “The president has widely disappointed Latino voters through the failure to pursue immigration reform through unprecedented deportations. But he can credibly claim to be better than the alternative when the alternative is saying horrible things.”

Segura said the Republican path to victory was less clear. “In some respect, Republicans could do better among Latino voters if they don’t bite at the immigrant provocations from the Democrats,” he noted. “That silence would improve the circumstances for Latinos voting Republican.”

Watch their extended discussion above.