As Nevada, a state with a substantial Latino population, holds its presidential caucuses for Democrats on Feb. 20 and Republicans on Feb. 23, Latino registered voters nationwide are strongly in favor of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Those are the results of a new survey by Burson Latino, the Latino practice of Burson-Marsteller, a leading global strategic communications and public relations firm. The survey of 1,300 registered Latino voters was conducted from Jan. 29 to Feb. 6, 2016, in collaboration with Research Now, New American Dimensions and the Center for Multicultural Science.
The survey found that Rubio, a Cuban-American, commanded the majority of the Republican vote (30 percent), while Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) were tied (19 percent). Among Democrats, Clinton leads over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) by 35 points. Clinton was favored by 61 percent of Democratic Latino voters, while Sanders was preferred by 26 percent.
Twenty-three percent of the Latino voters surveyed say they are independents. Of those who said they were independents nearly 49 percent of them said they would support one of the two Democratic candidates. Nearly 28 percent of these independent voters said they would vote for one of the Republican candidates. The remainder of those who say they are independent report they are undecided between the two parties, leaving a sizable swing segment among Latino voters.
“Latinos are poised to play a crucial role in the U.S. presidential elections,” said Donald A. Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO, Burson-Marsteller. “This new survey provides invaluable insights about how to connect with these voters as this unpredictable 2016 campaign advances.”
The survey also found that no single issue could define the race among Latinos. Regardless of party affiliation, education and the economy were rated as the two most important issues to Latino voters. Ninety-two percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans ranked education as important, while the economy was ranked as important by an overwhelming 90 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans.
“As we approach the Nevada caucuses, Super Tuesday and beyond, diverse states with significant Latino voter populations will begin to take center stage,” said Jorge Ortega, Executive Vice President and Burson Latino lead. “This national poll takes into account how Latinos actually feel about the core issues being discussed by the candidates – rather than relying on their party affiliation to indicate their stance.”
For example, the survey of Latino voters revealed that:
- Latinos favor health insurance coverage for all. A broad majority of Latino Democrats (87 percent) and independents (73 percent) said that health insurance coverage for all was an important issue. A narrow majority of Latino Republicans (52 percent) agreed with this view.
- Social issues lack traction among Latinos. Abortion (50 percent Democrat and Republican), gay marriage (42 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican) and legalization of marijuana (33 percent Democrat, 23 percent Republican) were all rated of relatively low importance to Latino voters in the study.
- Immigration and border control take a backseat to economic issues. New job creation, job security and the ability to receive a raise all ranked much higher in importance than immigration policy and the potential of a wall being built on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The poll exclusively targeted Latino, registered voters – a rarity in this election season,” said Dr. Jake Beniflah, Executive Director of The Center for Multicultural Science. “States with much more diverse populations will be having their primaries soon, so Latino voters will only continue to grow in importance. It is critical for the candidates to have a clear understanding of what’s important to this voting demographic to secure their support.”
The complete summary findings can be found on the Burson-Marsteller website here.