Latino Voters Strongly Support Voter ID Laws, Poll Says

Latino voters have been at the center of the voter ID law controversy, and yet according to a new poll released Thursday, they are not too bothered by it.

In its most recent study, the Pew Hispanic Center found that as many as 71 percent of Latino registered voters support the controversial law, which this year will be enforced for the first time in 11 states. Among all registered voters, the ID law, which requires voters to show photo identification in order to cast a ballot, is supported by 77 percent.

Consistent with this, 97 percent of those Latinos surveyed said they are confident they have the ID needed to vote in their state.

As for the Latino voting tendencies, the Pew study indicated, not surprisingly, that they favor President Obama 3 to 1 over Republican challenger Mitt Romney (69 percent against 21 percent), but warned that they are not as certain to go to the polls as the general public.

Even though Latino electorate has grown in size and importance, with some 23.7 million Hispanics eligible to vote this year, only 77 percent of registered Latino voters surveyed by Pew said they are “absolutely certain” the will vote in the November 6 election – as opposed to 89 percent in the general population.

Moreover, Latinos rarely turn out to vote in numbers close to their potential. According to Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director at Pew Hispanic quoted recently by Los Angeles Times, one of the factors depressing the Latino voter turnout is the comparative youth of the voting bloc. About a third of Latinos in the country are in the 18 to 29 age group, and young people generally tend to vote at much lower rates than older people.

Another factor playing a role in keeping Latino turnout rates down, added Lopez, could be that about half of the voters are in California and Texas, two states that haven’t been in play for the presidential election.

Still, Latino voter groups expect that the estimated number of Latino voters who will turn in ballots in November —10 million to 12 million— will break a record. About 9.7 million Latinos voted in the presidential election four years ago.

Obama’s current 69-21 lead over Romney among Latinos (with 9 percent still undecided) has barely changed throughout the 2012 campaign and throughout the last four years: in 2008 Obama carried the Hispanic vote with a 67 to 31 percent margin.

Interestingly, one of the most significant shifts among Latinos in the last four years, and one stark contrast between this group and the general population, occurred in their satisfaction level with the nation’s direction. The Pew poll states that 45 percent of Latinos surveyed said they were satisfied, up from 27 percent in 2008. This trend is also reflected among the general population, but in a far more modest ratio: 28 percent in the general public said they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country (in 2008 18 percent did).

The survey was conducted among 1,765 Latino adults, in all 50 states, from September 7 through October 4, mostly before the Oct. 3 presidential debate. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.2 percent. The Pew Hispanic Center is a project of the nonpartisan research organization Pew Research Center.

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