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A big chunk of Latino independent voters are undecided ahead of midterms, poll shows

The percentage of Hispanic independent voters who say they're not sure which party will get their vote is twice as high as in 2018, according to the latest NALEO tracking poll.
Voters fill out their ballots in Miami on Nov. 06, 2018.
Voters fill out their ballots in Miami on Nov. 6, 2018.Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

About 40% of Latinos who consider themselves independents say they remain undecided whether to vote for Democrats or Republicans in congressional and Senate races, the fourth week of a tracking poll shows.

The indecision was captured in the weekly tracking poll for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, known as NALEO. It comes with about six weeks to go before the midterm elections Nov. 8.

"With just about a month away from Election Day and days before the beginning of early voting, we're seeing twice as many undecided independent Latino voters as we did in 2018 and a growing young electorate that is still considering whether to vote in November," NALEO Executive Director Arturo Vargas said.

In addition, 26% of Latino independents said they are not following very closely the congressional elections to decide who controls Congress, and 13% said they are not following the elections at all. Among Latino voters overall, those numbers are 21% and 6%.

“There’s a lot of negativity out there and people get turned off by politics,” said Stephen Nuño, a political analyst for BSP Research, a Democratic firm that conducted the poll.

He said the independents’ indecision and inattention are “warning signs, but we are still a month away and a lot of things are going to change. Those undecideds are going to drop dramatically.”

A big question this election cycle is whether more Latinos will vote Republican or whether then-President Donald Trump's gains in 2020 will be sustained. The GOP says it’s making inroads, while Democrats say the so-called Latino shift is overblown.

In an NBC News/Telemundo poll, 18% of Latino independents surveyed said they consider themselves Republican in the last year or two, while 30% said they consider themselves Democrat. More than half said they don’t consider themselves either.

Like other Latinos, independents in the NALEO tracking poll ranked the economy as the top issue they want Congress and the president to address, with 48% naming it. That was followed by women’s reproductive and abortion rights, 26%, and lowering the cost of health care, 25%.

But more than half, 51%, said they are doing about the same economically compared to two years ago before Joe Biden became president.

The poll found that the majority, 58%, of Latino independents said they had not been contacted by any campaign, political party or organization asking them to vote.

This week's poll also showed:

  • Latinas were more likely to name reproductive and abortion rights as an issue the president and Congress need to address, 33%, compared to Latinos (men), 23%.
  • A greater share of Latinos (men) said they were doing better financially than two years ago, 36% to 26%.

Even though a larger share of Latino men are saying they are better off, they are more supportive of Republicans than Latinas are, with 35% of Latinos planning to vote for or leaning toward the Republican candidates compared to 30% of Latinas.

For Democrats, 52% of Latino men are supporting them or leaning in their direction and 55% of Latinas.

That's a sign that Democrats are failing to communicate their work on economy and jobs, Nuño said.

"Dems are not benefiting from these men who are saying they are better off," he said.

NALEO's poll tracking Latino registered voters surveyed 1,132 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

The nine-week poll is in its fourth week. It was conducted by BSP Research, one of whose co-founders conducted polling for the Biden campaign.

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