October 04, 2002

A majority of Latino voters in California and New York are opposed to having U.S. forces go to war with Iraq in contrast to national public opinion surveys, according to a poll of 809 registered Latino voters in the two states released by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.

The survey found that 60 percent oppose a war with Iraq compared to 32 percent that are in favor and 9 percent undecided. While there is opposition to a war in Iraq, the poll found strong support for President Bush. "It is obvious that President Bush's call to action is not resonating among Latino voters," said Dr. Harry Pachon. "Although Bush gets a nod of approval for his overall response to national issues, Latino voters still see the Democratic party as meeting their needs."

Latino Electorate Defies Simple Categorization
The TRPI poll showed two-thirds of Latinos are satisfied with the way George W. Bush is handling his overall job as president. More specifically, 62 percent responded that the President is doing a good job handling the nation's economic problems and 73 percent said he is doing a good job of handling the national security issues facing the nation.

Despite continued support for Bush, more than one-year after the terrorist attacks, Latino voters in the two states still demonstrate strong ties to the Democratic Party with 69 percent of registered voters identifying as Democrats (compared to 15 percent Republican and 16 percent Independent). In addition, when asked which party could best address the most important problems facing the nation, Latinos sided with the Democratic Party by a 3-to-1 margin over the Republican Party. A looming war with Iraq and public safety continue to be high priorities for Latino voters, yet the economy was seen as the most pressing issue facing the nation, ranked ahead of national security concerns.

Latinos Support Increased Political Voice
On other issues, 70 percent of respondents felt that Hispanics or Latinos have too little influence in American politics compared to only 17 percent that felt the level of influence was just about right. The support for increased Latino political representation was evidenced by the fact that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans were open to the idea of voting for a Latino candidate of the opposite party.

State Specific Results
In state races, Latino voters sent mixed signals by supporting both a Republican and Democratic candidate for Governor. In New York, Republican George Pataki drew 40 percent of the vote with Democratic challenger Carl McCall polling only 16 percent and Independent Tom Golisano at 8 percent, with 22 percent still undecided.

In California, Democrat Gray Davis held 41 percent support among Latino voters with Republican Bill Simon attracting 11 percent and Green candidate Peter Camejo at 4 percent, with 31 percent undecided. In Congressional elections however, over 60 percent of Latinos in both states plan to vote for the Democratic candidate.

Latino voters in California were also disappointed by Governor Davis' decision to veto legislation extending driver's licenses to undocumented residents. The bill, A.B. 60, authored by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo would have allowed immigrants in the process of legalizing their status to obtain a driver's license after completing a background check. Overall, 59 percent of Latino voters said they opposed the action by Davis, and 70 percent of naturalized immigrant voters opposed his veto, a growing segment of the Latino electorate.

"This is an important issue for all Californians. Of the 22 million drivers, 10% are unlicensed and uninsured. Further, this has become the number one civil rights issue for the Latino community and these findings confirm the broad based support among Latinos for members of their family and the community," said Assemblyman Gil Cedillo.

For more information at http://www.trpi.org

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