New York – With only four days left before election day, the 2012 Latino vote is shaping up to look very similar to the one in 2008.
About 66 percent of likely Latino voters said that they plan to go to the ballot box for President Barack Obama, almost identical to the 67 percent of the Latino vote he received in 2008, according to a new poll conducted by Fox News.
Obama leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 38 points – 66 percent to 28 percent, the poll show. In September, Obama was leading by 30 point in September, 60 percent to 30 percent. Overall, however, the overall race is in a dead heat, with the Obama/Biden ticket tied with Romney/Ryan ticket at 46 percent, the poll found.
"Latinos are already turning out to support President Obama in higher numbers than they did in 2008 because they know that Mitt Romney is on the wrong side of every Latino voter priority and the most extreme presidential nominee on immigration." said Gabriela Domenzain, Obama campaign spokesperson.
Romney’s favorability ratings have barely moved even among Latino Republicans and conservatives. Whatever post-debate surge Romney enjoyed, it apparently bypassed Latinos.
- Fox News Poll Executive Summary
The poll found that the economy was the most important issue to voters and Latinos trust Obama on this issue by a 35-point margin, up from 26-points in September. It also stated that Obama's gains are driven by increased advantages on national security, the economy and values and that Romney did not get the post-debate bump among Latinos that he did with other parts of the population.
"I'm not surpised," said Rosario Marin, the former U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush. "Gov. Romney doesn't really have a track record working with Latinos. He's an unknown quantity for the Hispanic community."
A Fox News Latino poll released in mid-September gave hope to the Romney campaign that his focus on the economy may gain him some of the Latino vote.
The poll found 48 percent of likely Latino voters think that the economy is the most important issue in deciding their vote, while only 6 percent said their vote would be decided based on the immigration issue.
Immigration came in fifth place among voters polled, compared to other issues they said they cared more about: the economy, health care (14 percent), education (11 percent) and social issues (8 percent). National security and the military came in sixth with 5 percent.
"The economy has to be front and center," Marin said. "That is why they come to this country...to work."
Romney’s economic plan fits in with the basic conservative model of smaller government, deregulation, open markets and free enterprise. His economic policies have focused on cutting tax expenditures – or the ways in which the government spends through giving various types of tax breaks – but he has been criticized by some economists for being too vague in his economic stimulus plan.
In his four years as president, Obama has struggled to jump start a struggling U.S. economy and boost job numbers, but he has had some successes, particularly with the revitalization of the Detroit auto industry and Wall Street reform.
However, Obama is still playing catch up with the job losses from early in his term and his battle with a Republican-controlled Congress over the federal debt ceiling highlighted the ideological rigidity of both parties and the discord between the two.
Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.