'Hispanic vote' different from generation to generation

Members of CASA de Maryland gather in front of the White House to celebrate the Obama Administration's announcement about deportation of illegal immigrants June 15, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Jeff Horwich: It's our weekly partnership with the polling organization Gallup. Editor-in-chief Frank Newport is here as always. Hi Frank.

Frank Newport: Good morning.

Horwich: So you've been able to discern with some recent polling some important generational differences among Hispanics. So what changes from first generation in the U.S. to being second or third generation?

Newport: A very good question, because a lot of people tend to say there's the Hispanic market, or politically, there are Hispanic voters. But it really does vary on whether the respondent identifies as Hispanic who is an immigrant, their parents came here, or both them and their parents were born in the U.S.

The biggest thing that changes is the longer the Hispanic has been in the U.S., the more they are like any other American; the less their country of origin seems to matter to them. And that has real implications for, for example, issues that are important to them for politicians. Immigration becomes much less of significant, as an example, for Hispanics who have been here for several generations.

Horwich: Are marketers and politicians already on top of this trend, do you think?

Newport: I'm not sure they are, because we have seen both President Obama speaking politically, and Mitt Romney really talking about the immigration issue as if that is the issue that consumes all Hispanic voters in this country. And our data show conclusively that it's not -- particularly for second generation Hispanics, who were born here and their parents were born here -- immigration is dead last on the list of priorities. They're interested in the economy, and health care, and the gap between the rich and the poor -- like a lot of other Americans -- and immigration is not really an issue to them at all.

Horwich: We have been hearing a lot in recent weeks about Obama's widening lead, it seems, with Hispanic voters. Is that really just a particular generational phenomenon as well, if we break it down?

Newport: Well all Hispanics certainly tilt Democratic and tilt towards Obama. When you put registered voter Hispanics together who tend to have been here for several generations, he's leading with roughly two-thirds of the vote. But there is a slight difference -- when Hispanics have been here longer, they tend to get more Republican, although not so much so that the majority of them are going to vote for Romney. But clearly Romney has more of a potential among Hispanics who have been here longer.

Horwich: Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of Gallup. Thanks very much.

Newport: My pleasure.

 

About the author

Frank Newport, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief at Gallup and appears regularly on Marketplace.

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