- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Republicans stand to boost their share of the vote among Hispanics in the fall elections and beyond, but only if they mount a major registration drive, a poll scheduled for release today suggests.
The survey of 1,000 Hispanic adults indicates those who most strongly support Republicans are newcomers to the United States who are not yet registered to vote.
The poll indicates the importance of Republicans delivering appeals in Spanish. Respondents were asked whether they wished to be interviewed in Spanish or English, and Republicans fared best among those who preferred Spanish.
President Bush's popularity played a significant role in the attitudes of Hispanics in the survey conducted Aug. 2 through Aug. 14.
"This is the first time I've seen a president's popularity have coattails," said Robert de Posada, president of the Latino Coalition, which sponsored the poll.
"Last year in this same poll, on the generic congressional ballot question, the Democrats had a 34 percentage point lead over Republicans," he said. "This year, Democrats lead by only 12 points."
Mr. Bush won approval for his job performance from 68 percent of all Hispanics in the survey and from 74 percent among Hispanics not registered to vote.
Also, Mr. Bush beat Al Gore 50 percent to 35 percent in a hypothetical matchup. Last year, the poll found the Democratic former vice president ahead of Mr. Bush by 54 percent to 28 percent.
The survey by McLaughlin & Associates' Opiniones Latinas, a Republican polling firm, has an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
"The president and the congressional Republicans are scoring the highest with the newest arrivals to America Latinos who do not speak English and also among Latinos who are not registered to vote," Mr. de Posada said. "It's the newcomers, the non-English speakers, that the Republicans should be going after before the Democrats get them."
Among those interviewed in Spanish, the poll found that the president's approval rating was 74 percent, while among those who chose to respond in English, 62 percent approved of the way the president was doing his job.
Sixty percent of the Hispanics polled said they were registered to vote. The poll did not attempt to find out how many among the sample were in the United States illegally.
Sixty-five percent said they their national ancestry is Mexican, with Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, South American, Central American and "other Hispanic" each constituting from 2 percent to 8 percent of the responses.
The poll shows that Hispanics apparently are buying into the American dream with the same degree of optimism as previous waves of immigrants.
"Nearly 70 percent of Latinos believe that the quality of life for their children will be better than it has been for them, and only 12 percent say it is worse," said Mr. de Posada. "This result shows that even through tough economic times, Latinos have hope in the future and believe that things will get better in the months and years ahead.
"However, the survey also shows deep concerns in their daily lives and for their future," he added. "A significant majority of Latinos have a negative opinion of our public education system, health care programs and immigration system. They strongly support reform and quick action on these issues."
Fifty-six percent in the overall sample said they believe they should become more a part of American society, even if it means losing some of their cultural identity.
Democrats still enjoy a considerable advantage among Hispanics: 48 percent in the poll said they identify with the Democratic Party, compared with 23 percent for the Republican Party.
The Republican National Committee has been trying, with mixed results, to instill a "sense of urgency" in selected state parties where the Hispanic vote potential is large, a Republican official said privately.
The RNC has spent $1 million for a Spanish-language news program that airs in six markets: Albuquerque, N.M.; Las Vegas; Fresno, Calif.; Miami; Orlando, Fla.; and Denver.
"Clearly, Latinos now see the Republican Party as the party of President George W. Bush," Mr. de Posada said.
"And this is a significant boost for Republican candidates across the board," Mr. de Posada said. "Hispanics are becoming more and more independent when it comes to politics."

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