Evangelical Latinos warmer to Romney

Mitt Romney with Hispanic supporters in Florida. (Melina Mara/Washington Post)

While Mitt Romney polls far behind President Obama with Latinos, one group of HIspanic voters is more closely divided -- evangelical Protestants. 

According to a Pew Research Center study (based on polling done shortly after the first presidential debate), 39 percent of evangelical Hispanic registered voters back the Republican candidate. Fifty percent back President Obama.

By contrast, 73 percent of Catholic Latinos and 82 percent of religiously-unaffiliated Latinos support Obama over Romney. 

White evangelicals overwhelmingly back Romney, by a three-to-one margin. National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Samuel Rodriguez recently told Religion & Politics magazine that Romney has “reached out extensively” to him and other Latino evangelicals and could strengthen his support in the community "if he emphasizes his commitment to faith, family, entrepreneurship and a just immigration reform solution."

Only 16 percent of registered Hispanic voters are evangelical, and in 2008 Latinos were only 9 percent of the electorate. So Romney's relative strength with evangelical Hispanics isn't game-changing, but it is a potential inroad with a block of swing voters.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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