Half of Hispanic voters support official English
Nov. 12, 2006
About half the Hispanics who voted Tuesday in Arizona supported a successful
ballot proposal that makes English the state's official language, according to
an exit poll by the Associated Press.
While Whites and Blacks favored it overwhelmingly, Hispanics and other racial
groups were divided over Proposition 103, which also requires that government
functions be conducted in English.
Like three other immigration measures on the Arizona ballot, Proposition 103
drew in support in the 70-percent range. People on both side of the immigration
debate said they weren't surprised by Hispanic support for the proposal. Fred
Solop, a political science professor and pollster at Northern Arizona
University, said the views of Hispanics are varied and shaped by their
education, income and the length of their families' presence in Arizona.
"I think our sense that the Hispanic community is monolithic is just shattered
when these issues come before us," Solop said.
The poll of 2,523 voters was conducted for AP and television networks by Edison
Media Research and Mitofsky International.
The survey included 600 absentee voters interviewed by telephone during the past
week and their responses were weighted to represent 20 percent of the total
sample - their estimated proportion of the state's electorate. Results were
subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, higher for
Immigrant rights advocates said Hispanic support for the measure isn't a swipe
against immigrants, but rather reflects a feeling that people ought to speak
English in America.
"Even the immigrants who can't vote know they have to speak English to prosper,"
said Lydia Guzman, chairwoman for the Coalition for Latino Political Action,
which opposed the four measures.
Republican state Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa, the driving force behind the
immigration package, said the measure's support from Hispanic voters reflects
their love of the country.
"They are Americans, and they understand what's good for America," Pearce said.
Those who proposed the measure said that proposal was needed to encourage the
assimilation of immigrants.
Immigrant advocates said it serves no practical purpose and was meant to tap
into voter frustration over Arizona's border woes.
Kevin Miller, a self-described open-minded Democratic who isn't wedded to either
party's ideology, said he was frustrated with immigrants using government
services and that the country needs a smarter approach to border security.
More than half of Democrats voted for Proposition 103, and nearly three-fourths
of independents favored it. Nine in 10 Republicans supported it, according to
the exit poll.
The proposal enjoyed a broad base of support across all age categories, though
younger voters favored it least.
The poll also found that four in five people without college degrees favored the
measure. But it still drew overwhelming support from college graduates, who
favored it by a 2-to-1 ratio. Nearly three-fourths of Hispanics who were college
graduates opposed it.