The new NBC/WSJ/Telemundo poll contains a striking finding: Obama is leading Mitt Romney among likely Latino voters by 50 points, 71-21. That’s a pretty big deal — a significantly bigger spread than Obama’s 67-31 margin over John McCain in 2008. But there’s also some important stuff down in the internals.
As Sam Stein notes, a key finding here is that virtually all the Latino respondents are showing a high interest in the election. That bodes well for high Latino turnout, which could be crucial to Obama’s hopes.
But I’d point to another finding: The GOP’s positive ratings among Latinos are abysmally low, and the negative ratings are (for Republicans) alarmingly high.
The poll finds that only 21 percent view the Republican Party positively, lower than at any other point since May of 2010 in this poll. The percentage viewing the GOP negatively is at 52 percent, higher than at any point since September of 2008. That’s 31 points under water.
Republican operatives have warned recently that the GOP simply must figure out a way to begin winning over Latinos, given the demographic changes inexorably transforming the electorate. But it looks as if the demands of the GOP base on immigration — as reflected in Republican immigration positions during the primary and during the pitched battles over the Arizona law and the new Obama policy for DREAMers — may be badly eroding the party’s image among this key constituency and making any real outreach impossible.
The Romney camp evidently sees the danger here. Romney now says that young illegal immigrants Granted a visa under Obama’s new policy won’t be deported. But this is unlikely to get him very far. Romney says he would halt this program if elected president — meaning only those who got visas under Obama would be permitted to stay. He has vowed to veto the DREAM Act and during the primary called for “self deportation,” facts the Obama team will not let Latinos forget.
All this could loom very large. Republicans are hanging their hopes on the notion that the 2012 electorate won’t show the same minority and Dem base composition that the 2008 electorate did. Obama campaign officials beg to differ. They note that Latinos have increased as a share of the vote in every election since 1992. If you combine rising interest in this election among Latinos with their increasingly negative view of the GOP, it could mean predictions of significantly dampened Latino enthusiasm may not come to pass. Now that Romney’s path to an electoral college victory has narrowed dramatically, everything that can shift key states on the margins matters — a lot.