Disillusioned Hispanics May Skip Midterms, Poll Suggests
By MARC LACEY
PHOENIX — Arizona’s controversial immigration law has prompted denunciations, demonstrations, boycotts and a federal lawsuit. But it may not bring the protest vote many Democrats had hoped would stem a Republican onslaught in races across the country.
That’s because although many voters are disillusioned with the political process, Latino voters are particularly dejected, and many may sit these elections out, according to voters, Latino organizations, and political consultants and candidates. A poll released Tuesday found that though Latinos strongly back Democrats over Republicans, 65 percent to 22 percent, in the Congressional elections just four weeks away, only 51 percent of Latino registered voters say they will absolutely go to the polls, compared to 70 percent of all registered voters.
The other side in the immigration debate is suffering no such lack of enthusiasm. One measure of its high spirits is the dance card of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. He conducts raids in Latino neighborhoods that have led critics to label him a racist and the Justice Department to start a racial profiling investigation. But he is a pariah who is also in demand.
As conservatives across the country seek to burnish their tough-on-immigration credentials, Mr. Arpaio’s endorsement is much sought after.
The Arizona law seems to be rewriting not just the rules on immigration, but the rules on how it is talked about on the campaign trail, too.
Even in New Mexico, a state with a large Hispanic population and traditional tolerance for illegal immigration, the issue is seen as a vote-getter for Republicans.
... The results of the poll released Tuesday, by the Pew Hispanic Center, suggest that the raging debate over Arizona’s law and the lack of Congressional action on immigration reform may have turned off many Latinos.
Just 32 percent of all Latino registered voters say they have given this year’s election “quite a lot” of thought, compared with 50 percent of all registered voters in the country, the poll found. The poll is based on a survey of 1,375 Latinos conducted from Aug. 17 to Sept. 19.
(The Pew poll also found that for Latinos, education, jobs and health care trump immigration as major issues, which could be bad news for Democrats hoping to capitalize from anger over the Arizona law.)
That's what practically every poll of Hispanic voters has more or less found in the decade I've been following this issue. Hispanic voters have sensibly ambivalent feelings about illegal immigration. The press routinely ignores this because they talk to professional Hispanic activists who are all in favor of increasing the population of Hispanics in the U.S. to boost their personal careers by giving them more putative followers to claim to be the leaders of.