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Survey: Latino voters lack enthusiasm, lean Democratic

LOS ANGELES - Latinos, a key part of the Democratic coalition that helped put President Barack Obama in the White House, have the same lack of enthusiasm as other voters but are likely to vote Democratic in this year's midterm election, according to a survey released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The survey, based on bilingual telephone interviews with 1,375 Latinos from Aug. 17 through Sept. 19, shows that 65 percent of registered Latino voters said they plan to support a Democrat while 22 percent said they prefer a Republican.

That's about the same as the party identification: 62 percent of Latinos say they favor Democrats and a quarter say they favor Republicans. The survey's margin of error is 3.3 percentage points.

This year, party identification has taken a backseat to the enthusiasm of the voters. Most polls show that Democrats have an enrollment edge but that the GOP is running ahead in generic ballots because its supporters say they are more motivated to vote, a trend fueled in part by conservative and libertarian anger over a difficult economy, lost jobs, and unhappiness with the Obama administration for pushing the health insurance overhaul, Wall Street reform and taxpayer spending to stimulate the economy.

If anything, according to the Pew survey, Latinos appear to be less motivated than other voters. About 32 percent said they have given this year's election "quite a lot" of thought, compared with about half of all voters. About 51 percent of Latinos said they were "absolutely certain" they will vote, compared to 70 percent of all voters.

About 44 percent of those Latinos who consider themselves Republicans said they had given a lot of thought to the election, while just 28 percent of Latino Democrats said the same, according to the survey.

In 2008, Latinos supported Obama over Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential candidate, by 67 percent to 31 percent. The current Pew survey found Latino registered voters approve of Obama's job performance by 63 percent to 47 percent. That's significantly better than most general polls.

Latinos see Democrats as having more concern about them than Republicans, but the Democratic edge is down to 47 percent this year from 55 percent in 2008.

The survey found 66 percent said they had discussed immigration issues with someone in the past year. Those who said they had such conversations were more motivated to vote on Nov. 2, by 58 percent to 39 percent.

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