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Polls Show Hispanics Warming To Bush, GOP In Congress

Poll Shows Hispanics Warming To Bush, GOP

By William E. Gibson | Washington Bureau

August 21, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's outreach to Hispanic voters has produced a wellspring of political support for himself and other Republicans, says a survey released on Tuesday by a business-oriented advocacy group.

The nationwide survey by the Latino Coalition, however, also indicated rising Hispanic concerns about the government's treatment of immigrants since Sept. 11, posing a challenge for Republicans.?

The coalition, which tends to favor Bush policies, concluded that Hispanic voters are "up for grabs" in the congressional elections this year and beyond. Other observers said Republican policies on immigration matters largely would determine whether the GOP could make significant gains within this highly coveted voting bloc that still leans toward the Democrats.

"That's the dilemma for the Republican Party," Robert de Posada, president of the Latino Coalition, said Tuesday. "Are they going to go for the long term, reach out to voters like President Bush is doing right now, addressing them in Spanish, addressing key issues like immigration that are of concern to them? Or are they going to go for the immediate hit in the November election? . . .

"If they are going to remain the majority party, they are going to have to begin to address some of these issues -- not only immigration but health care, education etc.," de Posada said.

Bush, a former Texas governor, is the leader of the pro-immigration faction within his party. Other Republicans, notably former California Gov. Pete Wilson, have been punished at the polls for more restrictive immigration-control positions.

The survey of 1,000 Hispanic adults taken this month gave Bush a job-approval rating of 68 percent. This month's survey gave Republicans in Congress an approval rating of 42 percent, far higher than last year's favorable rating of 23 percent. The rating for Democrats in Congress remained the same: 54 percent.

"The Republican numbers are moving up. The Democrats still have the upper hand, but it's certainly a more competitive environment for the Latino vote," said John McLaughlin, of McLaughlin & Associates' Opiniones Latinas, which conducted the survey. The poll has an error rate of plus or minus 3 percent.

GOP In Congress Gaining With Hispanics, Poll Says

By Sergio Bustos

August 21, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved.

WASHINGTON - Possibly benefiting from President Bush's widespread popularity, Republicans in Congress are gaining ground on their Democratic counterparts among Hispanic voters, a poll released Tuesday says.

The survey, taken three months before the crucial midyear elections, shows that 42 percent of Hispanics viewed GOP lawmakers favorably, up from 23 percent last year.

Democrats in Congress still maintain strong support among Hispanics, however. They received a favorable rating from 54 percent of those surveyed, unchanged from the previous year.

The poll represents at least one sign that efforts in recent years by Republicans to revamp their image among Hispanics may be paying off.

Robert L. de Posada, president of the Latino Coalition, said Bush deserves credit for any turnaround.

"This poll shows that Hispanics see the Republican Party as the party of George Bush, not the party of Pete Wilson," said de Posada, referring to the former California governor who alienated millions of Hispanics with his anti-immigrant policies during the 1990s.

The poll was commissioned by the Latino Coalition, a group with a conservative bent that often supports Bush administration policies.

Hispanics surveyed gave Bush high marks in running the country. About 68 percent of those interviewed approved of the job Bush was doing, up from 47 percent last year. The 2001 poll was done before Sept. 11, after which the president's approval ratings soared nationwide.

The results were similar to a national USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll last month that showed the president's approval ratings among all Americans at 69 percent.

When asked how they would vote if Bush were again challenged by former Vice President Al Gore for president, half said they would vote for Bush, vs. 35 percent for Gore. Asked the same question last year, Hispanics opted for Gore, 54 percent to 28 percent.

Gore took the Hispanic vote, 62 percent to 35 percent, in the 2000 presidential election, according to exit polls.

Democrats shrugged at the coalition's poll results.

"We're going to once again win the Hispanic vote in 2002 and in 2004 because Latinos do not buy the administration's mariachi politics: a song here, a song there and a nice White House photo op," said Guillermo Meneses, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

"Hispanics are going to vote on the issues that matter most to them, and that's where Democrats win over Republicans hands down," he said.

De Posada said both parties must compete for the support of a growing number of new Hispanic voters who remain uncommitted to either party.

"Hispanics are becoming more and more independent when it comes to politics," he said. "The days of one party writing off this bloc of voters, and the other party taking them for granted, are over."

This November, 4.6 million Hispanics are projected to vote, up from 4 million in 1998, the last off-year election.

The survey interviewed 1,000 Hispanics by telephone in Spanish and English from Aug. 2 to 14. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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