I hate to say “I told you so,” but…
Latino Decisions just released some poll data
on how the Obama Administration’s deportation policy is affecting young Latino attitudes toward the Democratic Party.
What seems to have helped the Obama Administration’s approval numbers all these years is a lack of information.
Somewhat surprisingly, as reflected in the figure below, we found that overall knowledge of the Obama administration’s deportation policies is limited.
Good for El Prez these last five years, not good for Latinos who seem to be less engaged every year. As I’ve always said, Republicans may not be pushing “comprehensive immigration reform” but El Prez does hold the keys to the deportation buses. Of course, boasting about deportations doesn’t work, and that trick about calling him “deporter in chief” didn’t seem to help with Republicans, either.
Still, young Latinos seem to know the difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to immigration issues.
Our study then tested the effect of additional knowledge of mass deportations by randomly assigning half of the survey participants, after answering the question on deportations under the last two presidents, with the following: “In fact, the Obama administration has deported around one and half times more people each year than the average under President Bush.” We then asked survey participants whether they see the Democratic and Republican parties as “welcoming, unwelcoming, or neither welcoming nor unwelcoming toward Latinos.” In the control condition with no additional information 55% of respondents rated the Democrats as “welcoming,” compared to 45% among those who received the additional information on deportations; this difference is statistically significant. Learning that Obama has been deporting more people per year than his predecessor makes Latinos view the Democratic Party as less welcoming. Only 9% of our sample rated the Republican Party as welcoming to Latinos, with no significant effects for the experiment.
There’s no doubt that President Obama’s approval ratings among Latinos, generally, has taken a significant hit, especially these last few years. And that can be blamed on a blown roll-out of Obamacare and the Obama deportation policies/record. But I would also venture to predict that a good reason for young Latinos still sticking with Democrats and not Republicans is because of public policies that matter most to them: student loan reform, health care reform, education, etc. Of course, that’s with no added information provided to those polled about other issues. In other words, the major flaw in this poll is a lack of other issues. Because I’d really like to know how young Latinos feel about a whole list of issues.
Bottom line: It would seem to me that young Latinos are not necessarily single-issue voters. And that may be the only thing that “saves” the Democrats. Of course, a question that needs to be asked is how would they vote in 2014–or, if they even intend to vote in 2014. And if this attitude is affected by the deportation policy, then the Democratic strategy suddenly gets simpler–if the political will exists. And I won’t hold my breath for that. But it does affect the overall strategy of “turnout, turnout, turnout.”
I will say that the Democratic strategy needs to be much better than just pointing fingers at the other side and waiting for Dan Patrick’s mouth to offend 10 million Texas Mexicans and other Latinos. Something’s gotta give.