We talked a couple of weeks ago about the ways in which Republican presidential candidates, most notably Mitt Romney, have alienated Latino voters. A new national Fox News Latino poll helps quantify matters a bit.
In a head-to-head match-up against [President Obama], none of the Republican candidates polled higher than 14 percent among Latinos.Additionally, 73 percent said they approved of the job the president has been doing, well above Gallup's national average of 45 percent. Fifty-eight percent said they approved of the president's handling of the economy, which polls show voters rank as the most important issue in the 2012 election.
Here's the kicker: among Latino voters who supported John McCain in 2008, a plurality of those voters now prefer Obama to whomever the Republican nominate.
I put together a chart to help drive the point home. On the left, those columns show Obama's edge over the GOP nominee in 2008, when exit polls showed McCain losing this constituency by 36 points. On the right, those columns show Obama's advantage over Romney based on the Fox News poll.
What's more, there's no great mystery here. Romney is an inflexible opponent of the DREAM Act; he's palling around with Pete Wilson and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach; he endorses a "self-deportation" agenda; he's critical of bilingualism; and his casual dismissals of "amnesty" and "illegals" are a staple of his campaign rhetoric.
Of course he's struggling badly with these voters.
The conventional wisdom suggests Romney can narrow the gap by naming New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to the 2012 ticket. And while the Fox News poll found Latino voters more willing to support the GOP if Martinez or Rubio is the running mate, Obama still trounces those tickets in either case.
This is, in other words, a problem that is not easily fixed.