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Key Issues for Hispanic Voters Include Education, Economy and Health Care

Embargoed for release until:
Thursday, July 22, 2004, 9:30 a.m. EST

For further information contact:
Craig Palosky, Kaiser Family Foundation, (202) 347-5270
Barbara Beck, Pew Hispanic Center, (215) 209-3076

Key Issues for Hispanic Voters Include Education, Economy and Health Care
Poll finds Kerry ahead of Bush 62% to 32% among Latino Voters

WASHINGTON, DC (July 22, 2004) — Hispanic voters are more concerned this year about issues that affect all Americans — such as education, the economy, health care and the war against terrorism — than about immigration, according to a new comprehensive survey of Latino registered voters. As has long been the case, these voters are much more concerned about education than the general public, and they are most likely to say education will be extremely important in their vote for president this year, according to the survey released today by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

On the immigration issue, the survey reveals that more than eight in 10 registered Hispanics favor Democratic plans for resolving the status of unauthorized immigrants, more than the just over half who favor President Bush’s proposal for a temporary worker program. In addition, a majority of Latino voters say that government should provide health insurance for Americans without it and that they are willing to pay higher taxes or higher insurance premiums to increase the number of Americans who have health insurance. Most Hispanics are troubled about the conduct of the war in Iraq.

Hispanics, the biggest minority group in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are a significant pool of voters in states such as New Mexico and Florida that will be battlegrounds for the presidential election. Both parties are actively courting Hispanics as an important voting bloc in the upcoming presidential election.

“The 2004 National Survey of Latinos: Politics and Civic Participation,” conducted by telephone from April 21, 2004 to June 9, 2004 among a nationally representative sample of 2,288 Latino respondents, including 1,166 registered voters, examines the views of Latino registered voters on a range of issues and concerns that are subject of debate in the current political campaign.

“Given the tremendous growth of the Latino population, candidates, political organizations and the news media are paying greater attention to Latino voters in 2004 than in any previous election year,” said Roberto Suro, Director of the Pew Hispanic Center. “Although this is a diverse collection of voters not easily labeled, substantial majorities of Hispanic voters hold strong views on health care and immigration and while more divided over the war in Iraq, many are critical of the way President Bush is handling the conflict.”

The survey also looks at the differences in characteristics, attitudes and civic participation among three groups of Latinos — Latino registered voters, those who are eligible to vote but have not registered and those Latinos who are not U.S. citizens. The report also explores Hispanic views on a question that has risen to prominence each time the United States has experienced a substantial influx of immigrants: Is there a single American culture?

This is the third such collaboration. The first National Survey of Latinos in 2002 also examined political views as well as a range of attitudes regarding ethnic identity and the assimilation process. The second, conducted in 2003, focused on education.

“The issues that Latino voters care about mirror those of concern for all registered voters, with the economy and health care high on their lists,” said Mollyann Brodie, Ph.D.,Vice President and Director of Public Opinion and Media Research at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “Education is the one area that Latinos are even more likely than other voters to deem critical to their vote this fall.”

A separate survey conducted July 12-20, 2004 among 786 registered Latinos shows that at this point Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry leads President Bush by 62% to 32% in a two-way race.

Here is a sample of the results from the main Kaiser-Pew poll:

Party Affiliation

Registered Latinos are most likely to identify themselves as Democrats. However, a sizable minority does not affiliate themselves with either party. The Democrats two-to-one advantage over the Republicans in party identification has not changed significantly since the 2000 presidential election. Latinos of Cuban origins, as has long been the case, are more likely than other Latinos to say they are Republican.

* Nearly half (45%) of registered Latinos consider themselves Democrats. Two in 10 (20%) say that they are Republicans. Another two in 10 (21%) say they are Independents, 8% say that they are “something else,” and 5% say that they do not know their party affiliation.
* Surveys similar in scope and methodology to this one found virtually identical breakdowns in party identification in 1999 and 2002.
* Registered voters who trace their origins to Cuba make up 6% of the Latino electorate. More than half (52%) say they are Republicans. Less than two in 10 (17%) say they are Democrats, and 9% say they are independents.
* Registered voters of Mexican origins make up 60% of the Latino electorate. Nearly half (47%) say they are Democrats, while 18% identify as Republicans and 22% say they are independents.
* Registered voters of Puerto Rican origins account for 15% of the Latino electorate. Half (50%) are Democrats while 17% are Republicans and 15% are independents.

Ranking Issues

Only half as many Hispanics (27%) said that immigration would be extremely important in determining their vote as cited education (54%).

* Percent of registered Latinos who say each will be extremely important in their vote for president this year:
o Education (54%)
o The economy and jobs (51%)
o Health care and Medicare (51%)
o U.S. campaign against terrorism (45%)
o The war in Iraq (40%)
o Crime (40%)
o Social Security (39%)
o Moral Values (36%)
o Taxes (33%)
o The federal budget deficit (30%)
o Immigration (27%)

War in Iraq

At the time of this survey, registered Latinos were evenly split on whether the United States made the right or wrong decision in using military force in Iraq. However, a majority of Hispanic voters are critical of President Bush’s conduct of the war and say they believe that the Bush Administration deliberately misled the American public in its justification for the war. Latino views of the war reflect their partisan loyalties.

* Nearly half (46%) of registered Latinos say that the United States made the right decision in using military force against Iraq. The same amount (46%) says that the United States made the wrong choice. Seven percent say that they did not know. Those views are somewhat more negative than responses to similar questions in surveys of the general population and appear to reflect partisan loyalties among Latinos that favor the Democrats.
* About four in 10 (41%) registered Latinos say that they strongly disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, and another 15% say that they disapprove somewhat. About two in 10 (22%) strongly approve of the way the President is handling the situation in Iraq and another 15% say they somewhat approve.
* Most registered Latinos (54%) say that the Bush Administration deliberately misled the American public about how big a threat Iraq was to the United States before the war began. However, about four in 10 (39%) disagree and 7% say that they do not know.

Attitudes About Political Leaders

Registered Latinos are also split on whether or not political leaders care what people like them think and most say that political leaders are not interested in the problems of particular interest to Latinos living in the United States.

* About half of registered Latinos agree strongly (29%) or somewhat (23%) that political leaders do not care much what people like them think. Just under half disagree strongly (21%) or somewhat (25%).
* Most registered Latinos (54%) say that based on their experience political leaders are not interested in the problems of particular concern to Latinos living in the United States. However, about four in 10 (39%) disagree and say that political leaders are interested in Latino concerns.

Registered Latinos are considerably more likely to say that the Democratic Party has more concern for Latinos than the Republican Party. However, an equal amount says that there is no difference between the two parties.

* When asked if the Democratic Party or the Republican Party has more concern for Latinos, over four in 10 (43%) registered Latinos say that the Democratic Party is more concerned while about one in 10 (11%) say the Republican Party. However, over four in 10 (42%) say that there is no difference between the two parties.

Methodology

The Pew Hispanic Center/ Kaiser Family Foundation 2004 National Survey of Latinos: Politics and Civic Engagement was conducted by telephone between April 21 and June 9, 2004 among a nationally representative sample of 2,288 Latino adults, 18 years and older, who were selected at random. Latinos were identified based on the question “Are you, yourself, of Hispanic or Latino origin or descent, such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American, Caribbean, or some other Latin background?” Representatives of the Pew Hispanic Center and The Kaiser Family Foundation worked together to develop the survey questionnaire and analyze the results. International Communications Research of Media, PA conducted the fieldwork in either English or Spanish, based on the
respondent’s preference.

The sample design employed a highly stratified disproportionate RDD sample of the 48 contiguous states. The results are weighted to represent the actual distribution of adults throughout the
United States.

Latinos have been classified into four groups: total Latinos; registered Latinos; Latinos who are citizens of the United States, but not registered to vote; and Latinos who are not citizens. Total Latinos includes all respondents interviewed in this survey. Registered Latinos includes all respondents who say they are citizens of the United States and are currently registered to vote. Citizens who are not registered includes all respondents who say they are citizens of the United States, but say they are not currently registered to vote or do not know if they are registered to vote. Non-citizens includes all respondents who were not born in the United States or Puerto Rico and who say they have not become citizens of the United States.

The margin of sampling error for total Latinos in the survey is +/-2.83 percentage points. The survey sample included 1166 registered Latinos (margin for sampling error +/-4.18 percentage points); 311 Latinos who are citizens, but not registered to vote (margin for sampling error of +/-7.68 percentage points); and 788 Latinos who are not citizens (margin for sampling error +/-4.51 percentage points).

An additional election survey was conducted by telephone between July 12th and July 20th, 2004 among a national sample of 788 Latino adults, 18 years and older, who are registered to vote. 62% of these respondents also participated in previous Pew/Kaiser national RDD surveys of Latinos and 38% of respondents were contacted using a new RDD sample of the 48 contiguous states. The results are weighted to represent the best available estimates of the Latino electorate in the United States. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.5%. International Communications Research of Media, PA conducted the fieldwork in either English (71% of interviews) or Spanish (29%), based on the respondent’s preference.

Please note that sampling error may be larger for other subgroups and sampling error is only one of many potential sources of error in this or any other public opinion poll.

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation dedicated to providing information and analysis on health care issues to policymakers, the media, the health care community, and the general public. The foundation is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries.

The Pew Hispanic Center, based in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit research organization supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia. The Center is a project of the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication. The Center’s mission is to improve understanding of the diverse Hispanic population in the United States and to chronicle Latinos’ growing impact on the nation.