That seems to be the result of a Latino Decisions poll of Latinos on the Republican line-up. When asked how much they knew about the candidates, this is what came out.

Mitt Romney and Rick Perry are among the best known candidates in the group of eight; despite this, 46% have no opinion or have never heard of Romney, and 40% have never heard of Perry.  Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and apparent favorite to clinch the nomination, is favored by 28% of Latino voters, while 25% have an unfavorable impression of him. The rest do not know who he is or have no opinion. Perry, who as governor of Texas would be the closest to Latinos in the Republican primaries, is someone few of the country’s Latino voters know: 40% of them have no idea who he is. Likewise, his approval level is abysmal and still lower than Romney’s at 22%. His level of disapproval is higher: 39%.

In Texas, a state he has governed for 11 years, Perry has a 37% approval rate from Latinos, a number similar to the one he obtained in his latest re-election in November 2010, when he received 38% of the Texas Latino vote. However, in that state, 49% of Latino voters disapprove of Perry. A majority of analysts has said Republicans should aspire to 40% of the national Latino vote to be able to win certain key states.

“The number 37% is not bad for a Republican as far as the Latino vote,” said Gabriel Sánchez, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico. “There, Latinos know him better than anywhere else in the country, and are more familiar with the way he governs.”

Latinos are even less familiar with the rest of the candidates, while their disapproval levels are even higher: 58% have no opinion or have never heard of Michelle Bachmann, and 29% have an unfavorable impression of the Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party representative. Only 13% have a favorable impression. Also, 59% do not know libertarian Ron Paul or have no opinion, while 19% disapprove of him and 16% approve.

And as far as Newt Gingrich, 41% have never heard of him, 32% have a favorable impression and 36% an unfavorable impression. The least known candidates are Herman Cain and Jon Huntsman: 73% do not know or have no opinion of Herman Cain, and 75% do not know or have no opinion of Jon Huntsman.  Sarah Palin, who a few days ago announced she will not run, is among the most familiar for Latinos: only 24% said they have never heard of her. However, her disapproval rate is very high: 62% have a very unfavorable or somewhat unfavorable opinion of her (of which 46% are very unfavorable).

I’m sure Latinos know a little bit more about Herman Cain after his electric fence joke.

 “It’s going to be 20 feet high. It’s going to have barbed wire on the top. It’s going to be electrified. And there’s going to be a sign on the other side saying, ‘It will kill you — Warning.'”

Of course, Michelle Bachmann’s association with a hate group, Mitt Romney’s flip-flops, and Rick Perry’s sanctuary city policies are about as nutty as a Republican can get on immigration.

This doesn’t provide Obama a clear path, though. The administration’s lack of movement on comprehensive immigration reform, coupled with an increase in enforcement that has entangled DREAMers and other non-criminal immigrants, has not helped Obama with Latinos. Republican anti-Latino rhetoric usually works in favor of Democrats if the Democrats either defend or push for positive legislation. But anti-Latino rhetoric coupled what gives the image of legislative indifference leads to voter indifference, or as the media calls it, apathy. And as long as Republicans rally against immigration reform, Latinos will continue to state that immigration and DREAM are among their top issues.

I’m of the opinion, speaking with my Democratic hat on, that President Obama needs to face up to his promise of immigration reform. A sort of mea culpa in which he states he shouldn’t have promised CIR during the first term, and that perhaps what the nation thought of as the beginning of a post-racial, post-partisan era of politics because of his election was more of a Republican feast on the very programs that the majority of voters supported–our very values as a nation.

Obviously, the Republicans continue to dig their own grave when it comes to Latino support. Latinos are going to need something from President Obama, and if positive legislation isn’t going to be a part of it, then he needs to rally the troops in much more effective way.


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