Support for President Obama is steadily dropping among Hispanics, according to a Gallup poll released this week. Only 57% of Hispanics gave the president a positive job approval rating, down from 69% in January. The slip is noteworthy because it has occurred while Obama’s approval rating among Whites and Blacks has remained stable—signaling that his action (or lack of action) has touched a negative chord within the Hispanic population.
The Gallup researchers attribute the shift to disappointment with the president’s refusal to make federal immigration reform a priority.
“While Obama has tried to show strong moral support for the idea of comprehensive immigration reform, his reluctance to expend any real political capital to make it happen may be taking a toll on his approval rating in the Hispanic community.”
January to May was a time of heightened debate and controversy around immigration reform. Arizona’s passage of a law that makes it a state crime to be an undocumented immigrant has further pushed the issue to the national stage, and prompted hundreds of protests and acts of civil disobedience around the country.
But the researchers are quick to note that despite the decline in popularity, a majority of Hispanics still support the president, and the group’s rating far exceeds that of non-Hispanic whites (who gave Obama a mere 41% approval).
It’s unclear how the disenchantment among Hispanic voters will affect the fall election season. Somehow, despite criticism of Congress’ failure to act on immigration, it seems unlikely that the huge Hispanic population in Nevada, for example, will vote for the new Republican nominee Sharron Angle, a Tea Party candidate, in her contest with the incumbent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But will they support Democratic candidates who have broken promises on immigration reform?
The real question is if Hispanics will head to the polls at all.