Pollster: Latino voter apathy hurts Obama

Oct. 17, 2011 at 2:28 PM
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MIAMI, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Latinos, who helped Barack Obama win the presidency, are increasingly apathetic about politics and may not vote next year, Latino voters and pollsters say.

"The only upside for Democrats is that it's not like the GOP is winning a ton of fans among Latino voters," Gabriel Sanchez, research director for Latino Decisions, a non-partisan polling group, told The Miami Herald.

"But as we get closer to the election, Latino enthusiasm for voting is getting weaker and weaker and that's not a good sign for Obama," he said.

Thirty-one percent of Hispanic registered voters strongly approve of the job Obama is doing, an impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll released Thursday indicated.

Thirty-two percent somewhat approve, the telephone poll of 600 registered voters found.

In May 2009, Obama enjoyed a peak approval rating of 82 percent of Latino voters, the Herald said.

The October impreMedia/Latino Decisions survey has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

"We know the country was messed up even before Obama got here, but he promised us jobs," Hector Rivera, 37, told the Herald.

Rivera lost his job at Lowe's home-improvement store in St. Petersburg, Fla., three months ago. His wife was laid off from a health center and they lost their home.

Rivera is washing dishes at a Mexican restaurant but has given up on politicians. "I'm not going to vote at all," he said.

The unemployment rate among Latinos is 11.3 percent, more than 2 points higher than the 9.1 percent rate among the general U.S. population.

Democrats say the 2009 economic stimulus kept 1.9 million Latinos out of poverty.

And Maria Elena Ferrer, a non-partisan consultant with New York's Humanamente and co-author of the just-released book "Spirituality and Politics," told United Press International Monday political indifference will never create change.

"People need to be involved in politics for politics to change," she said. "It doesn't work if we just wash our hands and then blame others for the way things are."

But Leslie Vega, a 23-year-old nurse whose fiance lost his job a year ago, told the Herald she feels "like things are never going to change."

"I'm just kind of over politics at this point," she said.

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