Courting – or avoiding – the Hispanic vote?

Updated

A new Latino Decisions poll released on the eve of the second presidential debate shows President Obama with a 67%-23% lead over Mitt Romney among Hispanics nationwide – a slight drop from the 72%-20% lead the president enjoyed a week earlier.

The same poll also found a 12 percent drop in the number of Latinos who said they were either “very enthusiastic” or “somewhat enthusiastic” about the election from 93% to 81%. “With little-to-no attention on Latino voters on the national level since the conventions, enthusiasm among Latinos voters has slightly dropped indicating the race may have turned more into a matter of turnout rather than candidate support,” the pollsters write in an accompanying memo.

On today’s show, Alex and her guests discussed why immigration has not been a central issue in the general election campaign or either of the first two debates and whether it was likely to be addressed Tuesday night. “Neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party has wanted to touch the issue with a ten-foot pole,” NBCLatino’s Victoria DeFrancesco Soto said, arguing that President Obama was reluctant to discuss the issue because he didn’t want to remind Latinos of his broken 2008 campaign promise to pass immigration reform by the end of his first term, while Mitt Romney is caught between trying to appease his base and a natural desire not to turn off Hispanic voters.

“They’re stuck in a tough place and both parties would actually just prefer to keep it on the back burner,” Soto added. Alex noted that although Republicans generally favor stricter policies toward illegal immigrants, according to ICE statistics, the Obama Administration deported over 1.1 million illegal immigrants during its first three years in office – more than any administration since the 1950’s.

“For all Mitt Romney’s epic, colossal difficulties with this subject, President Obama has actually been very strict at cracking down on the borders and doing things to anger some in the Latino community so it isn’t an automatic win or plus for him to start talking about this,” panelist and Bloomberg Businessweek writer  Josh Green added.

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Courting -- or avoiding -- the Hispanic vote?

Updated