Obama is struggling on immigration — big time. But Latinos aren’t about to vote Republican.


This empty Army reserve warehouse in Westminster, Md. is on the list of possible sites to house undocumented minors who illegally cross the border into the United States. Graffiti painted onto the wall in recent days illustrate opposition to the proposal from some local residents. (Photo by Jenna Johnson/The Washington Post)

Like a lot of Americans, Latinos have fallen out of love with President Obama in recent years. In fact, polling has shown Latinos have fallen out of love with Obama even more than just about anybody else. And that was before the current debacle on the U.S.-Mexico border and the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Despite all of it, though, don't expect Latinos to swing toward the GOP in any significant way come November.

For a few reasons:

1) Latinos are frustrated, but they still like the GOP a lot less

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows just 40 percent of Hispanics approve of Obama's handling of the crisis on the Southern border, while 54 percent disapprove. That's pretty bad.


But when it comes to Republicans, just 23 percent of Latinos approve of their efforts, and 68 percent disapprove.

Latinos' approval of Obama on immigration is higher than the rest of the country (33 percent), suggesting they are still giving Obama more of the benefit of the doubt.

2) We've seen this episode before

This is hardly the first time Latinos have fallen out of love with Obama. During 2011, amid news of increased deportations, Obama's approval rating among Hispanics dropped from stratospheric heights to below 50 percent -- pretty much about where it is today.

Polling from conservative groups even showed Obama significantly under-performing his 2008 totals among Latinos in key states.

The result: Obama actually increased his share of the Latino vote between 2008 and 2012, from 67 percent to 71 percent. And after the election, Gallup showed Obama's approval rating among Hispanics surging back up to 75 percent.

3) They are still Democrats

Latinos haven't just voted for Obama in recent years; they're also increasingly identifying with Democrats. In fact, even as polls have shown Obama's numbers with Latinos plummeting again, those same polls shows Latinos sticking with the Democratic Party in the upcoming midterm.

A Pew poll in March showed Hispanic approval of Obama dipping to 48 percent. At the same time, though, Hispanics favored a generic Democrat running for Congress to a generic Republican running for Congress by a two-to-one margin, 63 percent to 31 percent.

You'll notice quite the gap between Hispanics' approval of Obama (48 percent) and their likelihood of voting for Democrats (63 percent). That's not generally the case with the broader population, for which a president's approval is a pretty good barometer of electoral support for his party. Clearly, with Hispanics, not being happy with Obama doesn't necessarily translate into voting for the other team.

Now, a 63-31 split might seem like an improvement for the GOP. After all, they lost the Hispanic vote 71-27 in 2012. But if you look back to the last midterm, in 2010, the GOP did better among Latinos -- 60-38.

The biggest difference in 2010 was that Latinos were just 8 percent of the vote, as compared to 10 percent in 2012. Therein lies the biggest problem for Democrats when it come to the Latino vote: The prospect that they'll simply stay home.

As for bolting for the GOP, though? It's not happening -- at least as things stand today, and probably not at all.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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