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Latinos back Obama despite deportation policies, poll finds

December 28, 2011 | 12:53 pm

Photo: President Barack Obama. Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast  / Associated Press

A majority of Latinos disapprove of the way the Obama administration has handled deportations and their approval of the president’s job performance has declined sharply in the last year, according to a recent national poll.

But none of that seems to have diminished the likelihood that Latinos will vote for Obama in the upcoming presidential election, according to the poll published Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center. 

“We found that there’s a lot of disapproval of the way the administration is handling deportations,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, one of the authors of the report. “Yet even among those Latinos who do disapprove, in head-to-head competitions, Barack Obama would win against Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.”

The poll indicates that 59% of Latinos disapproved of the way the administration has handled the deportation of more than 1 million people in the last three years, according to the survey, which polled 1,220 Latino adults — including 557 voters — in November and early December. There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.

Yet in a hypothetical matchup against Republican presidential candidate Romney, Latino registered voters supported Obama 68% to 23%. And they supported Obama over Texas Gov. Perry by a similar margin.

Even among those who disapprove of the way Obama is handling the issue of deportations, a majority would support him over those two candidates, according to the survey. Obama captured about two-thirds of the Latino vote in 2008.

The poll began before Newt Gingrich’s recent surge in popularity among GOP candidates and did not ask about him.

Despite strong voter support, the president’s job approval among Latinos dropped sharply in the last year. About 49% of those polled said they approved of the job Obama is doing compared with 58% in 2010, according to the report.

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— Paloma Esquivel

Photo: President Obama. Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast  / Associated Press

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