Among Hispanics, Hillary Clinton was more popular than Barack Obama when she competed against him in 2008 to be the Democratic presidential nominee.
But fast-forward to 2016, and their positions are reversed. The president currently is far more popular among Latino registered voters than his former secretary of state, according to a new Fox News Latino poll released Friday.
Obama boasts a 72 percent favorability rating among Latino registered voters, while Clinton is at 56 percent. Only 26 percent gave the president an unfavorable rating; Clinton got 41 percent. Obama's favorability is higher than it was in 2012, when a Fox News Latino poll showed it at 70 percent.
Obama’s favorability ratings were high despite the president’s reputation as “deporter in chief” – a nickname bestowed on him by Hispanic leaders furious over the record number of deportations under his administration.
But clearly, the outcry over his immigration enforcement was not enough to drive down his favorability rating when stacked against the programs and policies that were seen by Latinos as beneficial to them, experts say.
“In the balance, they have appreciated what he’s done in other areas enough to offset the deficiencies,” said Democratic pollster Fernand Amandi.
Amandi said that despite criticism from immigration activists, Latinos have a favorable view of the president he’s been able to make moves that have directly benefited the community, Amandi told Fox News Latino.
“Dating back to his first term, the Hispanic electorate has always had great appreciation for President Obama,” Amandi said to Fox News Latino. “It stems from his policies, from Obamacare – which disproportionately affected Hispanics, many of whom didn’t have health insurance – to an economic policy that increased opportunities, to making college more affordable.”
“It’s been an 8-year honeymoon for the president and Latinos.”
The poll also shows Clinton lagging slightly behind Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, her rival for the Democratic nomination, among Latino voters in a head-to-head matchup against the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
Sanders gets 66 percent of Latino voter support, compared to Trump's 22 percent. Clinton defeats Trump among Hispanics by a 62-23 margin.
It’s remarkable that Sanders has overcome his handicaps – namely, he started out his campaign largely unknown among Latino voters and with a significant organizational disadvantage to the former First Lady, who had high name recognition as well as a history of doing well among Latino voters – to pass Clinton.
“It’s age – we're so young,” Allert Gort-Brown, a fellow at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies, told FNL. “[Young Latinos] like ... Sanders in the same way other millennials like him. One of the privileges of youth is wanting to have a revolution. Middle-aged voters are more inclined to incremental changes. Young people view the system as being in favor of people who have things.”
He added, “Within the community there’s still a lot of support for what the Clintons did for Hispanics.”
While a majority of Hispanics view her favorably, Latinos under the age of 45 (48 percent) and Protestants (45 percent) have less favorable views of her.
Some experts believe Clinton could raise her likability among Latinos by selected a Hispanic running mate like rising Democratic star Julián Castro, who is the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
“It could help make the Southwest noncompetitive for her, and put Arizona into play,” said Louis Desipio, a political science professor at the University of California, Irvine.
“Castro is young and dynamic, and he speaks to the concerns the American public might have about her. She’s older and has been affluent for some time, and she doesn’t always get the message of the Sanders campaign.”
The Fox News Latino poll, however, showed that if Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, it makes no difference to 80 percent of Latinos if she does or does not select a Hispanic running mate. On the Republican side, that number is even higher – 86 percent of Latinos saying it makes no difference to them whether or not Trump picks a Hispanic vice presidential candidate.
The Fox News Poll was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R).
The poll was conducted by telephone with live interviewers May 14-17, 2016, among a random sample of 886 Latino registered voters as an oversample to a national survey of 1,021 registered voters.
This Latino sample is made up of 76 interviews conducted as part of the base national sample and 810 additional interviews from a Latino voter list developed from previously conducted national random digit dial surveys.
Results based on the full Latino oversample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.