Poll finds Republicans could be hurt at polls if they don't pass immigration reform


House Republicans might be underestimating the power of the Latino vote and could suffer long term for that mistake by failing to address calls to pass comprehensive immigration reform, according to a national poll released today.

A decision by House Speaker John Boehner (R.,-Ohio) to refuse to allow Congress to vote on a comprehensive immigration reform bill has earned the Republican Party a 71 percent disapproval rating among registered Latino voters, according to the poll conducted by Latino Decisions, which conducts political opinion research and America’s Voices, a lobbying organization for immigration reform.

But 39 percent of Latino voters said they would be more likely to vote for their Republican congressional candidate if they supported a comprehensive reform bill, according to the poll.

“How John Boehner chooses to play this could have a huge impact on the history of how Latinos vote in the future,” said Gary Segura, chairman of Chicano/a Studies at Stanford University. Mr. Segura presented the results today of the poll that was conducted from July 13-20. “If you’re Republican and think there’s no way you can get Latino votes you might want to rethink that strategy. There is room for growth.”

The poll focused on Latino voters in 24 Republican-held battleground districts, including two in Ohio, to see how the issue of immigration reform – and the two parties’ handling of it – could impact key 2014 congressional races, Frank Sherry, executive director for America’s Voice, said during a news conference today.

“We wanted to look at areas where Latino voters will have a significant impact in the future,” Mr. Sherry said. “We wanted to see [where] a lot of Latino voters stand on issues.”

What they found is that immigration reform is overwhelmingly the top issue for 60 percent of Latinos polled. The economy at 27 percent and education reform at 13 percent, were the only other issues that reached double digits.