Bush Rates Lower With Spanish-Speaking Voters

By David S. Broder and Zachary A. Goldfarb
Thursday, July 20, 2006

A new poll of Spanish-speaking voters shows significant damage to the standing of President Bush and the Republican Party as a consequence of the debate over immigration policy.

The survey, paid for by the NDN, an affiliate of the Democratic Party, questioned 600 registered Hispanic voters for whom Spanish is the dominant language, in the last week of June. Spanish-dominant voters make up about half the Hispanic bloc and about 5 percent of the total electorate.

Bush had boosted the Republican share of the overall Hispanic vote to 40 percent in 2004, with almost all his gains coming among the Spanish-speaking voters. When the Spanish speakers were asked in this survey how they would now vote, John Kerry led Bush, 59 percent to 23 percent -- far better than the 52 percent to 48 percent showing Kerry achieved among Spanish speakers in 2004.

Bush, who had regularly received approval scores of 60 percent or more, now was trailing Kerry 38 percent to 58 percent on favorability ratings.

The poll takers attributed the falloff to opposition to the Iraq war and a higher profile for immigration issues, on which the Republican Party has appeared to be sharply divided. Bush's efforts for comprehensive reform, backed by many Hispanics, have been blocked so far by House Republicans.

In His Father's Footsteps

Another milestone was reached this week in the rich history of political infighting in Cook County's Democratic Party.

On Tuesday, Democratic officials in Cook County -- home to Chicago and 40 percent of Illinois's population -- voted to name Alderman Todd Stroger their nominee for president of the county board in the November election.

Stroger, 43, is the son of John Stroger, 77, the longtime incumbent who suffered a stroke a week before a March primary in which he was facing a strong challenge. Although he won, John Stroger did not give any indication about his condition until he announced his resignation a few weeks ago.

That resignation left the decision of selecting the nominee to a group of party bosses, which named the younger Stroger.

Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), who was also contending for the nomination, pledged his support for the younger Stroger but suggested that the manner of his selection could expose Democrats to attacks.

"We know the Democratic Party of Cook County," he said in an interview. "Increasingly, it has made decisions in primaries that voters oftentimes disagree with. . . . In this particular instance, much of the public suggested that I'd be the best candidate, . . . but the party figured it would be loyal to Todd's father."

Davis warned that Democratic dissatisfaction with the decision could have repercussions in this year's contested Illinois governor's race, where Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich will need strong voter turnout in heavily Democratic Cook County.

The Republican candidate for board president, County Commissioner Tony Peraica, said he plans to make Stroger's selection a centerpiece of his campaign. For 40 years, the board president has been a Democrat. "I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Peraica said.

In an interview, Todd Stroger said his lineage would be an asset. "If you are born and your parents are able to give you certain things and certain opportunities, in America we're supposed to think that's a good thing," he said. "In this political race, they tried to make it seem like I should have done something else. . . . I try to follow in his footsteps."

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