Los Angeles – The Hispanic majority that helped President Barack Obama win the 2008 election has dropped so much that it could keep him from being reelected, according to figures from a poll taken by ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions.
"Latino voters are no longer enthusiastic supporters of President Obama because of his immigration policies, and for that reason support for him has dwindled," Matt Barreto, professor of political science at the University of Washington, told Efe.
"That doesn't mean they're going to vote massively for Republicans, because they perceive that Republicans see them as enemies. But their Democratic friends are not treating them well, so what can happen is that many Latinos simply won't vote," he said.
Latino Decisions surveyed 500 Hispanic registered voters between July 27 and Aug. 9, focusing on the 21 states with the largest Latino electorate.
The poll found that while 68 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama in 2008, only 39 percent said they will vote for his reelection next year.
"If the disillusion over Obama not keeping his promises on immigration policy causes a drop in the number of Latino votes in 2012, it will damage the current president's chances of winning the election in states with large Latino populations," Barreto said.
Only around half of the respondents said they are "very enthusiastic" about voting in the 2012 elections, and another 26 percent described themselves as "somewhat enthusiastic."
Gabriel Sanchez, associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico and director of research for Latino Decisions, told Efe that adding the number of committed Latino Democrats to those who said they might end up voting for Obama brings his voter preference to 54 percent, a significant 14 percent decline compared with 2008.
"What people say is that this lack of enthusiasm for Obama is the result of not keeping his promise to promote immigration reform - Latinos want to see fewer undocumented migrants deported," Sanchez said.
The survey shows 10 percent of Hispanics to be committed Republican voters, while 8 percent said they might vote for a Republican in 2012, and 4 percent were undecided, though the possibility exists that the latter might cast their ballot for a Republican.
Pilar Marrero, reporter for the daily La Opinion of Los Angeles, an ImpreMedia publication, told Efe that according to the survey "Latinos still see themselves as Democrats."
What Latinos' responses show is the anxiety they feel about the economic situation they're going through and the anguish of many voters with friends or family who are not citizens," Marrero said.
"This is a pretty worrying trend for the Barack Obama administration, because in 2012 he will need the Latino vote more than ever," she said.