Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Poll: House Republicans Not So Safe in 2014

Beltway conventional wisdom, if there is such a thing, says that while the Latino vote is a concern for presidential elections, most Republican House members enjoy gerrymandered districts and have nothing to worry about. But a new nationwide poll of 800 Latino voters in 24 Republican-held battleground districts tells a more cautionary tale for the GOP.

The survey, conducted by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice, indicates that immigration remains the most important issue among Latino voters, and shows that in these 24 districts, which stretch from California to Minnesota to Florida to New York, the Latino populations are growing, the margins of victory are small, and House Republicans face a potential loss.

“I think the message of this poll for Republicans is very clear: half-hearted (immigration) measures are not going to solve the electoral problem that they face," says Gary Segura, professor of American politics and chair of Chicano Studies at Stanford University and principal at Latino Decisions.

 "Half-measures like DREAM-lite, or no citizenship or second class status, those things are not going to solve the problem."

In the surveyed districts, 70% of Latino midterm voters disapprove of the job Republicans in Congress are doing handling immigration policy, while only 20% approve.

Among the poll's other findings: Ugly rhetoric does further damage to the brand. Two-thirds of Latino voters know someone who is undocumented. When responding to quotes from Republican Members of Congress like Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert that malign undocumented immigrants, the damage is clear. But after hearing positive comments (the poll tested quotes from Reps. Paul Ryan and Spencer Bachus in addition to negative quotes from King, Gohmert, and others), Latinos’ opinions of the Party improved dramatically.

           The poll also found that many Latino voters are willing to give Republicans a second chance if they set aside excuses and schedule a vote on immigration reform with a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans. Among midterm Latino voters in these districts, 62% have voted Republican at some point in their lives, 50% would be more likely to support a GOP House candidate in their district if they take a leadership role in passing immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, even if they disagree on other issues, and 62% would feel more favorable towards Republicans in Congress if Speaker John Boehner allows a bipartisan vote on immigration reform.

Frank Sharry, executive director for America’s Voice, says this is a "a critical moment for the GOP. They can either take this opportunity to make inroads with the fastest-growing demographic in the country, or fall back on excuses and half-measures that do nothing but reinforce their current tarnished brand.”

Below is the full list of GOP districts included in the survey:

Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-10)
 Rep. Buck McKeon (CA-25 )
 Rep. Gary Miller (CA-31)
 Rep. Scott Tipton (CO-03)
 Rep. Mike Coffman (CO-06)
 Rep. Steve Southerland (FL-02) 
Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-10)
 Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-16)
 Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13)

 Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02)

 Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-01)

 Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-06)

Rep. Joe Heck (NV-03)
Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-03)

 Rep. Peter King (NY-02) 
Rep. Michael Grimm (NY-11)
 Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-19)
 Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23)
 Rep. Chris Collins (NY-27)
 Rep. Robert Pittenger (NC-09)

Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-06)
 Rep. Jim Renacci (OH-16)
Rep. Randy Weber (TX-14)

 Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02)

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