EVANGELICAL GROUP RELEASES POLL ON LATINO PROTESTANT ATTITUDES IN 2008 ELECTIONS
(Washington, DC) – Today, several groups released a national survey of Latino Protestant voters and their views towards immigration in the 2008 election. One of the survey’s most significant findings is that Latino Protestant support for the Republican ticket has been cut nearly in half since the 2004 election.
On the issue of immigration, the survey found that 70.8 percent of Latino Protestants believe that immigration reform is an “extremely” or “very” important priority in determining who they will vote for. This number is higher than the issue of gay marriage as a priority (55.8 percent) and is on par with the issue of abortion (74.8 percent). Furthermore, 76.8 percent of respondents say that their religious beliefs are important in influencing their views on immigration.
“The Bib lical mandate to welcome the immigrant could not be clearer and we draw our values from our Bibles,” said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who spoke during the press conference announcing the survey results. “This poll powerfully demonstrates that immigration is a profoundly religious issue for Hispanic evangelicals. We will vote our faith and we will vote our values. It's time that all candidates take notice.”
However, both parties still have work to do when it comes to immigration. According to the survey results, a clear majority say they have heard public officials speak negatively about immigrants (62.2 percent). Those who have heard this negative rhetoric are as likely to associate it with both parties (43.4 percent) as they are with only Republicans (40.5 percent). 7.7 percent associate it with only Democrats.
"The findings indicate that both political parties have to work hard to secure and maintain their Latino support,” said Gastón Espinosa, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. “The Latino Protestant community is a volatile voting constituency that is sensitive to direct political canvassing and bread-and-butter20issues like immigration."
According to the survey results, Latino Protestant registered voters favor Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain 50.4 percent to 33.6 percent with 10.4 percent of respondents still undecided. This represents a dramatic shift from 2004 when George W. Bush soundly won the Latino Protestant vote. According to 2004 post-election survey data, Bush won 63 percent of this segment of the Latino electorate.
"This poll shows that the pendulum of the Protestant Hispanic electorate has swung towards the Democratic Party,” said Jesse Miranda, of the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership. “However, this energy can shift in the opposite direction unless there is support of what is important in terms of the interests and concerns of the largest minority in this country. This should be a clarion call to the next U.S. president,” he concluded.
"Latino Protestant voters are demonstrating a faith-based politics that puts moral solutions above ideology and sound bites,” added Katie Paris, Director of Communications Strategy at Faith in Public Life, a sponsor of the poll. “Consequently, they are commanding the attention of both parties and defying the outdated stereotype that people of faith are mired in partisanship," she concluded.
More than 80 percent of Hispanic Protestants in the poll self-identified as born-again and/or attended an Evangelical denomination.
Sponsored by the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, The Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership at Vanguard University, Faith in Public Life, America’s Voice Education Fund and Gaston Espinosa, Ph.D., Claremont McKenna College and conducted by SDR Consulting, the poll was in the field from October 1-7, 2008. The results are based on telephone interviews with 500 Latino Protestant registered voters. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.
To view a full version of the polling memo, please visit http://www.faithinpubliclife.org/content/nslp/