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GOP cuts into Democrats’ lead among Latino voters, new poll shows

51% approve of Biden’s job performance, but a majority disapprove of his handling of economy in an NBC News/Telemundo survey ahead of the midterm elections.
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Less than six weeks before November’s midterm elections, Democrats lead Republicans by more than 20 points among Latino voters, but that Democratic advantage has declined from previous election cycles, according to a new national NBC News/Telemundo poll of the Latino electorate.  

The poll also finds Latino voters are essentially divided on President Joe Biden, with 51% approving of his job performance and 45% disapproving.  

And it shows these voters largely siding with Democrats on issues like abortion, health care and addressing concerns of the Hispanic community. But it also has them backing Republicans on crime and the economy.  

These are the main results of a survey — conducted nationwide of 1,000 Latino registered voters in both English and Spanish — to better understand this key electorate, especially after Republican gains with Latino voters in the last presidential election. 

“While Latinos continue to lean toward the Democratic Party and prefer Democratic control of Congress, Republicans have a higher share of the vote than we’ve measured previously,” said Democratic pollster Aileen Cardona-Arroyo of Hart Research Associates, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff and his team at Public Opinion Strategies. 

McInturff added, “Being down by 20 points is a lot better [for Republicans] than being down by 40 points,” referring to past NBC/Telemundo studies of Latino voters. 

What also stands out from this new poll are the differences between Latino men and Latina women, between Latino Democrats and Latino Republicans, between Catholic and non-Catholic Latinos, and between Latinos from California and those from Florida and Texas. 

“Latinos are an incredibly diverse community, and there are many segments of Latino voters — not just one Latino voter,” said Cardona-Arroyo, the Democratic pollster. 

In the NBC News/Telemundo poll, 54% of Latino voters say they prefer Democrats to control Congress as a result of the upcoming midterm elections, versus 33% who want Republicans in charge. 

That 21-point Democratic lead in congressional preference is down from past NBC/Telemundo over-samples of Latino voters in October 2020 (when it was 26 points), November 2018 (34 points), October 2016 (38 points) and October 2012 (42 points). 

There are also clear differences among Latinos: California Latinos (D+30), Latina women (D+29) and Catholic Latinos (D+27) are more likely to prefer Democratic control of Congress than Florida Latinos (D+7), Latino men (D+9) and non-Catholic Latinos (D+15). 

“Margins matter,” said Cardona-Arroyo, the Democratic pollster.

Mixed views on Biden

Regarding President Biden, 51% of Latino voters in the poll say they approve of the president’s job performance, compared with 45% who disapprove. 

Once again, there are key divides here: Latino Catholics, Latina women and older Latinos are more supportive of Biden than are non-Catholic Latinos, Latino men and younger Latinos. 

While a majority of all Latinos approve of Biden’s overall job as president, he gets lower ratings on the issues — 49% approve of his handling of foreign policy, 42% approve of him on border security and immigration, and 41% approve of his job on the economy. 

Asked whether Biden’s economic policies have helped or hurt economic conditions, 33% answer that they’ve helped, 39% say they’ve hurt, and another 26% say they haven’t made much of a difference.

Democrats vs. Republicans on the issues

On the issues, Latino voters believe Democrats do a better job handling abortion (by a 50% to 23% margin), addressing concerns of the Hispanic community (49%-23%), protecting democracy (48%-28%) and on health care (46%-21%). 

Yet they prefer Republicans over Democrats on the economy (38% say the GOP better handles the issue, versus 34% who say Democrats do), on border security (36%-33%) and on crime (36%-28%).

Asked what they consider to be the most important issue facing the country, 23% said the cost of living, 20% said “threats to democracy,” 17% said jobs and the economy and 11% said immigration and the situation at the border. 

In NBC News’ national poll of all voters last month, the top responses — in order — were “threats to democracy” (20%), the cost of living (18%), jobs and the economy (16%) and immigration/border (12%).

On abortion and immigration

Finally, the NBC News/Telemundo poll shows that a majority of Latino voters — 54% — say they disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning Roe v. Wade, while 37% approve. 

That’s not far removed from what last month’s national NBC News poll found among all registered voters, with 61% disapproving and 37% approving. 

Yet for Latinos on this question, there are significant divides by party and religion.

Seventy-five percent of Democratic Latinos disapprove of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, versus 42% of independents and 22% of Latino Republicans. 

By religion, 53% of Latino Catholics disapprove of the decision, versus 59% of Latino evangelical Christians who approve of it. 

And on immigration, two-thirds of Latino voters — 65% — believe that the migrants and refugees who arrive at the southern border should be allowed to request asylum and stay in the United States until their asylum cases are heard.

That’s compared with 31% of Latinos who say these migrants and refugees should be immediately detained and sent back to their countries of origin. 

By party, 83% of Latino Democrats say these migrants and refugees should be allowed to stay, versus 64% of GOP Latinos who believe that they should be detained and sent back. 

The NBC News/Telemundo poll was conducted Sept. 17-26 of 1,000 Latino registered voters, 75% of whom took the survey in English and 25% who took it in Spanish. 

Respondents were contacted via landline, cell phone and text message. And the poll has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.