LOS ANGELES, Oct 7, 2008 /PRNewswire-US Newswire via COMTEX/ — A significant percentage of Latino voters in key battleground states are either undecided or still open to persuasion in the presidential contest, according to a survey released today by The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.
The survey of registered Latinos in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada also demonstrates that Latino voters may turn out in unprecedented numbers and that the economy is their top election priority. Nearly a third of respondents said they had trouble making their mortgage or rent payments at some point during the past 12 months.
Issues such as the war in Iraq, health care and immigration reform are also at the top of voters' minds. Nearly a third believes there is no difference between the Republican and Democratic parties in their concern for Latinos.
'As the electoral map takes shape, it's increasingly clear the Latino vote may be decisive,' said Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund. 'In key battleground states, Latino voters are ready to vote in huge numbers, and a significant percentage is still persuadable. Underestimating the Latino vote could be disastrous for either party,' concluded Vargas.
The bilingual telephone survey was conducted by the public opinion firm Latino Decisions with the support of the AARP. The firm surveyed 1,600 Latino registered voters drawn equally from official statewide voter files in the four states and has a margin of error of +/- 4.7% for each state.
The poll indicates strong support among Latino registered voters in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada for Senator Barack Obama. In Florida, however, the candidates are in a statistical tie, with 38% favoring Senator John McCain and 35% favoring Senator Obama. The shift seems to reflect demographic changes in the state's Latino voters that are both generational and representative of the growing diversity of Latino immigrant groups now living in Florida.
One in ten Latino voters in Florida remains undecided. In addition, almost 15 percent said their support for either candidate is 'not so strong,' suggesting that a significant share of Latino voters in the Sunshine State may still be persuadable. Those findings were largely mirrored in the other battleground states.
In all four states, the survey finds there is tremendous enthusiasm among registered Latinos to cast ballots in the upcoming election. Nearly 90% of those surveyed say they intend to vote on Election Day. Given the growing Latino electorate in states like Nevada, where 59,489 Latino voters have registered since 2004, high Latino turnout could determine the outcome.
'These numbers give a unique glimpse into the views of Latino voters,' said Nancy LeaMond, Executive Vice President for Social Impact for AARP. 'AARP is pleased to work with the NALEO Educational Fund to give greater voice to Latinos in this pivotal election and help Senators McCain and Obama understand the issues that are important to Latino voters in these key states,' she concluded.
To view the results, including presidential horserace numbers, visit the NALEO website here: www.naleo.org/downloads/2008_Latino_Voter_Survey_in_Battleground_States_fin%20_2.pdf