Latinos eat up Obama’s view on role of government

October 3, 2012

Poll after poll shows a strong majority of Americans see President Obama as a supporter of big government. And Republicans think this is a message that works for them, because a strong majority of Americans oppose bigger government.

But among a very key group of voters, Obama's message of a bigger role for government appears to be having a real effect in swaying public opinion: Latinos.


President Obama visits Puerto Rico in 2011. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

A new CNN/Opinion Research poll shows precisely what we're talking about.

The survey asked Latinos whether they think the government is doing too many things that should be left to the private sector, or whether the government should do more.

While in July 2010, Latinos landed much more on the side of smaller government — 54 percent said the government did too much, while 36 percent said it should do more — today they're singing a very different tune.

The number of Latinos who want the government to do more has risen 18 points in the last two years and is now at 54 percent, while the number saying it is doing too much has dropped to 42 percent.

The numbers echo a Gallup poll conducted in June that showed that 56 percent of Latinos thought the government should do more to solve the country's problems, while 35 percent thought it was doing too much.

What's changed between 2010 and now? The economy is still bad, and Obama is still in office. The reason appears to have a lot to do with the messaging from the Obama campaign, which has enunciated a view of government's role in a way Democrats generally avoid.

While its sentiment may not be broadly popular with all Americans, it seems pretty clear that the Obama campaign has moved the needle with at least one very important voter bloc.

Which is probably a big reason why Mitt Romney hasn't been able to show much traction with this group so far; both the CNN poll and a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released today show Obama getting at least 70 percent of the Latino vote — bigger than his 67 percent share in the 2008 race.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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