August 23, 2002

Survey Shows Latino Voters are Up for Grabs

Washington, D.C. – The Board of Directors of The Latino Coalition (TLC) released the results of their 2002 National Hispanic Survey at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The survey was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates’ Opiniones Latinas. One thousand Hispanic adults in the U.S. were interviewed from August 2 – 14, 2002 for this survey, which has a margin of error of + 3.1%

“This survey shows very positive signs,” said TLC President Robert de Posada. “Nearly 70% of Latinos believe their children will have a better quality of life than they did, only 12% said worse. This result shows that even through tough economic times, Latinos have hope in the future and believe that things will get better in the months and years ahead.”

“However, the survey also shows deep concerns in their daily lives and their future,” de Posada added. “A significant majority of Latinos have a negative opinion of our public education system, our health care programs and the current status of our immigration system. They strongly support reform and quick action to address these issues.”

This survey shows three major areas of interest: 1) there is a much more competitive environment for the Latino vote; 2) Latino adults are a force for reform on important national issues: and, 3) there are rising concerns for immigration issues post 9/11. It also shows that there is a significant vacuum in leadership in the U.S. Latino community.

When asked which national Latino leader living today they most admire, almost 75% of Latinos could not identify a single leader. Of those who did mention a name, the most admired was Mexican President Vicente Fox (3.7%). He was followed by former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros (1.8%) and Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez (1.3%). Congressman Luis Gutierrez was the only Latino elected official with significant support.

On the political front, there is a much more competitive environment for the Latino vote. President Bush’s effort to reach out to Latino voters has generated impressive results. Not only did his job approval rating reach 68%, but it reached 74% among non-registered voters. In a significant show of strength from last year’s survey, President Bush now beats Al Gore 50-35% among Latino voters. Last year the former Vice President was defeating President Bush by a 54-28% margin in our survey.

The President’s popularity appears to have strong coattails for congressional Republicans. Republicans in Congress enjoyed a significant increase in the job approval from 23% in 2001 to 42% this year. While the approval number for Democrats in Congress remained the same, their negative rating nearly doubled from 13% in 2001 to 25% this year. In a generic ballot for Congress, Democrats’ lead almost vanished from a 34-point margin (51-17%) last year to a 12-point margin (44-32%) this year.

“While there is a much more positive image for Republicans, if individual candidates do not show the same kind of interest and concern for Latinos and their issues, as the President has, the coattails immediately evaporate,” de Posada added. “This is the case in California, where Democratic Governor Gray Davis enjoys a wide lead over Republican Bill Simon, 55-21% among Latinos.”

“Clearly Latinos now see the Republican Party as the party of President George W. Bush. And this is a significant boost for Republican candidates across the board,” de Posada said. “Hispanics are becoming more and more independent when it comes to politics. The results of this study are clearly a wake-up call for both major political parties. The days of one party writing off this block of voters, and the other party taking them for granted, are over. That is if they want to be the majority party in America.”

Latino adults are a force for reform on important national issues. On the efforts to address the uninsured crisis, Latinos overwhelmingly support the President’s effort to provide a $3,000 tax subsidy to uninsured workers (84.6%). When asked if they prefer a government-run health care coverage like Medicaid to cover the uninsured, only 38% supported this idea. That is not surprising when you see that only 22% of Latino adults believe that Medicaid is run well (64% believed it needs to be reformed). This issue could be a strong weapon for congressional Republicans: 80% of the respondents said they would be more likely to support a congressional candidate that supports the President’s agenda on the uninsured.

On the issue of Medicare, once again Latinos are strong advocates for reform. Only 20.9% of the respondents feel Medicare is run well, compared to 65% who state it needs to be reformed. Latinos strongly support focusing the prescription drug coverage assistance on low-income seniors, rather than offer an across the board plan for all seniors (73-24%). They also support allowing choices among different plans in Medicare by a 63-30% margin.

On education, only 39% of Latinos have a positive view of their local public school system. They cite drugs and violence in schools as the biggest problem facing public education. To address the barriers to quality educations, Latinos support increase funding for public schools over a school voucher program by a 64-32% margin.

On one of the most controversial educational issues, Latinos strongly believe that bilingual education programs should focus on making sure students learn English well. Support for native language instruction as a way to make sure that non-English speaking students do not fall behind in other matters only has a 26% support among Latinos.

Learning English is clearly one of the most important issues for Hispanics. When asked what they consider to be the greatest barrier that keeps Latinos from succeeding in America, 29% state language, followed by lack of education (19%) and discrimination (14%). “One can argue that lack of English proficiency is the main cause for lower levels of education and for much of the discrimination they face,” de Posada added. “Therefore, politicians should take notice, and make helping Latinos learn English a top priority in their legislative agenda.”

There are rising concerns for immigration issues post 9/11. In an open-ended question, the percentage of Latinos stating that immigration is the most important issue facing Latinos in the U.S. doubled from 9% in 2001 to 18% this year. This number jumps to 28% among non-registered voters. Discrimination came in second with 17% and education followed with 15%. “Clearly, since 9-11, immigration as an issue is back,” de Posada said.

While 53% of the respondents approved of the President’s handling of immigration issues, almost 83% approve of his plan to normalize the status of 3.5 million Mexican illegal immigrants already in the U.S., through an employment-based program. Since 9-11, 35% of the respondents stated they had notice a change or difference, in people’s attitude towards them as Latinos, half saying the change was for the better.

The survey also showed:

· 21% of Latinos said they, or a member of their immediate family, is a member of a labor union or a teacher’s association.

· Only 28% of Latinos have a 401(k) Plan for retirement.

· 56% of Latinos own a personal computer, while 41% do not access the internet.

· 48% of Latinos identify themselves with the Democratic Party, compared to 23% with the Republicans.

· 68% of Latinos oppose a monopoly in the satellite industry, concerned over the availability of Spanish-language programming.

· 31% of Latinos feel they have been personally discriminated in the past year.

· 56% of Latinos believe they should become more a part of American society, even if it means losing some of their cultural identity.

· 30% of Latinos have no health insurance.

The Latino Coalition is a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C. TLC was established to address policy issues that directly affect the well-being of Hispanics in the United States. TLC’s agenda is to develop and promote policies that will foster economic equivalency and enhance overall business, economic, and social development of Hispanics. For more information, or to download the entire survey, please visit their website at

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