Poll Ariz Hispanics may sway election
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/related/153440.php
by Lourdes Medrano
Most Arizona Hispanics view immigrants in a positive light, and they favor granting services to those living here illegally. But they have mixed opinions about whether to make English the state's official language.
Those are two of the findings culled from a wide-ranging telephone survey of about 8,600 Hispanics across the country. In Arizona, 400 people took part in the 40-minute survey, which was conducted in English and Spanish from December 2005 to last August.
"Arizona Hispanics are very similar to the rest of the country," said John Garcia, a political-science professor at the University of Arizona who spearheaded the survey with five colleagues from other universities.
Garcia extracted the Arizona data to develop a profile of Hispanics' political status and attitudes that he presented on campus last week. Survey participants answered questions on matters that are important to Hispanics, including several related to illegal immigration that will be on the state's Nov. 7 ballot.
The results indicate that many Arizona Hispanics may vote against the ballot measures, Garcia said.
"Ninety percent of Latinos say immigration in general improves society," Garcia said.
Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they supported allowing those here illegally access to services. When it comes to amending the Arizona Constitution to make English the official language, just under half said they opposed it, but more than 37 percent supported it, and about 14 percent neither supported nor opposed it.
On the topic of same-sex couples, a combined 72 percent of Arizona Hispanics surveyed said they had either no opinion or no recognition of the issue.
Joel Foster, a spokesman for Mi Familia Vota (My Family Votes), said the survey's findings are consistent with what immigrants registering to vote are saying.
Significant numbers of Hispanic voters could wield influence in ballot measures and close races, he said.
"Latinos could make a difference locally as well as nationally," Foster noted. "A lot of the people we've talked to are turned off by candidates using the immigration issue to try to win votes."
The group, which describes itself as the largest Latino get-out-the-vote effort in Arizona history, on Friday delivered more than 60,000 early-voting requests to the Pima County Recorder's Office, Foster said.
Meanwhile, Democracia USA (Democracy USA) recently announced that it had registered more than 105,000 new Hispanic voters, including 3,110 in Arizona.
Garcia said it remains to be seen whether the participation of the Hispanic electorate this November will be any higher than in previous elections. Historically, voter turnout among Hispanics has been low.
"It will be interesting to see how those propositions come out," Garcia said. "Right now, the speculation is that at least some of them or maybe all of them will pass."
Propositions 100, 102 and 300 deny an array of services to illegal immigrants, including adult-education classes and punitive damages in civil suits. Proposition 103 makes English the official language, and Proposition 107 defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.
All survey respondents were Hispanics older than 18. The majority of respondents were foreign-born.
The survey also found that Hispanics:
● Have limited levels of political interest.
● Are still mostly Democrats, but their allegiance to the party is not very strong.
● Are increasingly foreign-born and Spanish-speaking.
● Contact reporter Lourdes at 573-4347 or Medrano@azstarnet.com.