Hispanics don’t see Florida favorite sons Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio winning in 2016

Survey shows Hispanics pessimistic about economy

By Anthony Man,Sun Sentinel7:00 a.m. EDT, September 18, 2014

Hispanics, the fastest growing voting bloc in America and the most critical group of swing voters, don’t expect either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio — the Florida politicians widely portrayed as having the most appeal to Hispanic voters — to win the presidency in 2016.

Instead, Hispanics overwhelmingly expect Democrat Hillary Clinton will be the nation’s next president, says a nationwide poll conducted by Florida Atlantic University.

The expectation of a Clinton victory is held by 57 percent of Hispanics surveyed — and it’s shared by Democrats, independents, and Republicans.

Just 7.1 percent of Hispanics surveyed expect Bush, the former two-term Florida governor who is fluent in Spanish and whose wife is Mexican-American, to become the next president.

Political analysts often portray Bush as a candidate who could help Republicans reverse their dismal recent showing in presidential elections. Exit polls show Republican Mitt Romneywon just 27 percent of Hispanic votes in 2012 — 44 points behind President Barack Obama. In 2004, Bush’s brother, then-President George W. Bush, won 44 percent of Hispanic votes, just 9 points behind Democrat John Kerry.

Rubio, the first-term Republican U.S. senator whose parents emigrated from Cuba, fared slightly worse. Just 5.8 percent of Hispanics surveyed expect him to become the next president.

Kevin Wagner, an FAU political science professor who has seen the data, said there are several possible reasons for the results: Except for Florida’s Cuban-American community, Hispanic voters tend to lean Democratic. People put too much weight on “identity politics” and mistakenly assume Hispanic heritage translates into overwhelming Hispanic support. And Clinton is the only potential candidate who’s very well known to the public.
FAU surveyed 649 Hispanics across the country last month in English and Spanish using a combination of automated telephone calls and online surveys. The survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, will be released Thursday and is first in a series of monthly polls of Hispanics planned by FAU’s Business and Economic Polling Initiative, which is in the College of Business.

“Since we are in South Florida, we are interested in the Hispanic population. Hispanics are the fastest growing and largest minority in the U.S., and therefore are influencing the culture, the workforce, the marketplace and politics in the country,” said Monica Escaleras, director of the polling initiative.

Economy

The poll produced a Hispanic version of the widely respected Thompson Reuters University of Michigan survey of consumer confidence that’s been conducted with the general population since 1946.

The key takeaway: Hispanics are significantly less optimistic about the economy than the overall population.

Hispanics surveyed by FAU had a 68.3 score on the “index of consumer sentiment,” 14.2 points lower than the 82.5 the University of Michigan found among the entire population. A higher score shows greater optimism.

The view of current conditions was 75.4 among Hispanics, 24.4 points lower than the national assessment of 99.8.

But there wasn’t nearly as large a gap in assessments of the future economically. Future expectations among Hispanics were 63.7, just 7.6 points lower than the national score of 71.3

Immigration

FAU pollsters found that 51 percent of Hispanics believe the most recent immigrants to the U.S. “contribute to this country.” In the view of 36 percent, the most recent immigrants “cause problems.” Another 13 percent were unsure.

There’s an age gap. Among Hispanics ages 18 to 34, two-thirds said recent immigrants contribute to the country. That dropped to 48 percent among those 35 to 54 and to 40 percent among people 55 and older.

A large majority of Hispanics, 73 percent, believe that immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay.

The poll found 57 percent believe those in the country without legal permission should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship while 16 percent said they should allowed to stay but not allowed citizenship. Another 27 percent said those here illegally should be required to leave.

Puerto Rico

There’s no consensus about whether Puerto Rico should become the nation’s 51st state.

The idea is supported by 35 percent of Hispanics surveyed, opposed by 32 percent, and 33 percent are undecided.

There’s a partisan divide on statehood. Among Republicans, it’s supported by 31 percent of Hispanics and opposed by 46 percent. Among Democrats, 36 percent support and 27 percent oppose statehood. Voters who aren’t registered as Democrats or Republicans are effectively tied, with 35 percent supporting statehood and 37 percent opposed.

aman@tribune.com, 954-356-4550

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