Among Hispanic voters planning to head to the polls in next Tuesday’s GOP primary, Mitt Romney holds a 15 point advantage over Newt Gingrich (35 - 20), with Ron Paul and Rick Santorum polling at 6 percent and 7 percent respectively and 21 percent still undecided, according to a Univision, ABCNews and Latino Decisions survey.
The Univision survey comes as a number of Latino politicians in Florida’s Miami-Dade County and the Orlando Sentinel newspaper endorsed Romney.
“Mitt Romney is a committed conservative who believes in the American Dream, and we believe in him,” said Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández in a press release. “Governor Romney is principled, hard-working, and honest; and he has the real-world experience necessary to bring our country out of economic recession. We are proud to endorse him and support his candidacy.”
The former Massachusetts governor has been criticized for his tough stance toward immigration, his endorsement of Arizona immigration law architect Kris Kobach and his vow if elected to veto the DREAM Act, legislation that provides a path to citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants who graduate high school. The survey results indicate that despite the criticism in the Latino community and fierce attacks by Gingrich, Romney’s expensive Latino-targeted outreach campaign in Florida might be paying off.
The Associated Press reports that Romney has spent $7 million to date on advertising in Florida and earlier this month launched a Spanish-language television ad, in which his son viewers in Spanish that his father believes in the American Dream and will make sure that the United States remains a land of opportunity. The Romney campaign also hired Alberto Martínez, a former tap staff member to Florida senator Marco Rubio, to help improve outreach to Latinos.
In regards to Rubio, the Univision survey found that only 43 percent of Latino voters in Florida polled said that they were more likely to vote for the GOP candidate if Rubio were the vide-presidential candidate. Only 25 percent of Latino voters nationwide said Rubio on the GOP ticket would make them more likely to vote Republican in November.
U.S. President Barack Obama continues to hold a strong lead over his GOP contenders despite Latino voters being less excited about him than in 2008, the survey found.
"President Obama continues to hold a strong advantage over his most likely GOP rivals: 67 – 25 over Romney; 70 – 22 over Gingrich,” the survey stated. “53 percent of Hispanic voters nationally say they are less excited about President Obama now than they were in 2008. [And] 58 percent of Hispanics in the key swing state of Florida say they are less excited about President Obama now than they were in 2008.”
Florida holds its GOP primary next Tuesday, January 31.