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The Republicans' Latino Problem Is Serious, But It's Not New

Everyone’s talking about a recently-released poll showing that Latinos, like most people, simply do not care for Mitt Romney. The poll, conducted by Fox News Latino (it’s real!) and the firm Latin Insights, showed that in a matchup with President Obama, Mitt Romney would garner just 14 percent of Latinos’ votes, compared to Obama’s 70 percent. And crucially, the poll found that this fall, Obama could win forty percent of the Latinos who backed McCain in 2008. How shocking are these numbers?

A review of recent polling data shows that while the new numbers are dramatic, they’re not unprecedented. The Pew Hispanic Center found that in the 2010 midterms, Democrats received about 60 percent of the Latino vote—which, though high, was actually down slightly from 69 percent in the 2006 midterms and 67 percent in the 2008 presidential race. A late 2011 survey of Latinos found Obama beating Romney, 68 percent to 23 percent, in a hypothetical matchup. Moreover, Obama won support not only from 82 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning Latinos, but also from 29 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning Latinos. Romney, the poll found, would win only 62 percent of their vote. Obama’s record on issues that matter to Latinos is far from perfect, but when presented with a choice, Latinos’ preference is clear—and it has been for a while now.