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President Barack Obama holds a 44- percentage-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney among Hispanics, though interest in the campaign among this voting bloc lags behind other respondents in a poll released today.
The survey by NBC News, the Spanish-language television network Telemundo and the Wall Street Journal shows Hispanics favoring Obama over Romney, 67 percent to 23 percent.
Hispanic voters could prove decisive in the presidential race in such swing states as Florida, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia. The challenge for the Obama campaign will be to get them to the polls. Sixty-eight percent of the Hispanics surveyed said they were interested in the presidential election compared with 79 percent of all voters.
Hispanics helped propel Obama to the White House, as he won 67 percent of their vote in 2008 compared with 31 percent for Republican nominee John McCain, exit polls showed.
The new poll shows that twice as many Hispanics view Romney negatively as positively, 44 percent to 22 percent. Obama is viewed positively by 64 percent, negatively by 21 percent.
Romney used tough rhetoric on immigration during the Republican nomination race, expressing opposition to any proposal that would give legal status to undocumented workers without first requiring that they leave the U.S. He also has endorsed Arizona’s law requiring that companies verify workers’ immigration status, and said it should be extended nationally.
At a debate with Republican rivals in January, Romney called for “self-deportation,” meaning Hispanics “decide that they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don’t have legal documentation to allow them to work here.”
Obama last month announced the government would cease deportation of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and who have been here for at least five years, have no criminal record and are in school, graduated from high school or have been honorably discharged from the military.
The July 18-22 survey of 300 Hispanic registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at email@example.com.