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Republicans Continue to Repel Latinos

In a perfectly rational world, you'd think Republicans would make Latino voters a very ripe target. It's a rapidly growing segment of the electorate in which Republicans have occasionally shown strength, and it was an especially important element of the Obama coalition in 2008.

But in a new tracking poll from Latino Decisions based on surveys of Latinos in 21 states (representing 95% of the Latino population), Obama is showing impressive strength in this community, and Republicans are making no gains at all.

The president's job approval rating in this poll is at 70%, up from 57% in the last LD survey in September. The percentage of respondents saying they are "certain" they will vote to re-elect Obama is at a relatively soft 43%; but with "probables" and leaners, his "re-elect" number rises to 61%. Meanwhile, the total percentage of Latinos inclined to vote for a Republican candidate in 2012 is at 21%, with only 9% certain to vote that way. It's worth noting that in most polls, a "generic" Republican presidential candidate has been doing a lot better than named candidates in trial heats against Obama. And the 61-21 margin he enjoys among Latinos in this survey compares favorably with the 67-31 margin he won in 2008 against John McCain.

With the Republican presidential nominating process more than likely pushing the candidates towards immigrant-baiting statements, and with Latinos having relatively positive attitudes towards the kind of federal health care and education policies the GOP will be going after with big clawhammers, it's hard to see exactly how the GOP makes gains among Latinos between now and Election Day. They'd better hope their 2010 margins among white voters hold up.