July 22, 2004

The 2004 National Survey Of Latinos: Politics and Civic Participation

Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation

II. Latinos and the 2004 Election

Weighing their choices this election year, Latino voters are largely focused on bread and butter issues, including education and health care, however many are concerned about the conduct of the war in Iraq. Although immigration does not rank high among the issues that Hispanics say will determine their votes, more Latino voters favor Democratic plans for resolving the status of unauthorized migrants than favor President Bush’s proposal for a temporary worker program. On health care clear majorities say that government should provide health insurance for those without it and that they are willing to pay higher taxes or higher insurance premiums to see greater coverage of the uninsured. Latinos are divided over abortion and gay marriage, but on both issues a majority of Hispanic voters say they could still vote for a presidential candidate who disagrees with their views.

Party Affiliation

Registered Latinos are most likely to identify themselves as Democrats. However, a sizable minority does not affiliate themselves with either party. The Democrats two-to-one advantage over the Republicans in party identification has not changed significantly since the 2000 presidential election. (Chart 1)

Latinos of Cuban origins, as has long been the case, are more likely than other Latinos to say they are Republican. (Chart 2)

Latino Republicans have higher incomes and are more likely to be foreign born than Latino Democrats, but otherwise there are few significant differences in their socio-economic characteristics. (Charts 3 and 4)

Latino Democrats are more likely to say that discrimination is a major problem for Hispanics than Latino Republicans. (Chart 5)

Three in ten registered Latinos say that they are paying close attention to the 2004 Presidential election, and another four in ten say that they are paying somewhat close attention. Those findings are similar to responses in surveys of the general population.2 (Chart 6)

Ranking issues

Reflecting a long-standing difference, Hispanic registered voters are far more concerned about education than the general public, ranking it as their number one issue.3 Interest in the economy and health care rate almost as highly among Latinos. Only half as many Hispanics (27%) said that immigration would be extremely important in determining their vote as cited education (54%). (Chart 7)

Percent of registered Latinos who say each will be extremely important in their vote for president this year:

War in Iraq

At the time of this survey, registered Latinos were evenly split on whether the United States made the right or wrong decision in using military force in Iraq. However, a majority of Hispanic voters are critical of President Bush’s conduct of the war and say they believe that the Bush Administration deliberately misled the American public in its justification for the war. Latino views of the war reflect their partisan loyalties. (Chart 8)

Most registered Latinos say that they disapprove of the way President Bush is handling the situation in Iraq and they do not think that he has a clear plan for bringing the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion. (Chart 9)

The divisions among Latino registered voters over the war reflect their partisan loyalties in which the Democrats hold an overall advantage. (Chart 9)

Most Latino registered voters could still vote for a presidential candidate who differed with their views on the war. (Chart 10)

Health Care

Registered Latinos say that a number of different health care issues will be important in their vote for president this year including the cost of health care, the number of Americans without health insurance, Medicare, and the Prescription drug benefit for seniors. (Chart 11)

The percent of registered Latinos who say that each will be important to their vote:

The vast majority of registered Latinos say that they think the government should provide health insurance for those without it. Furthermore, most say that they would be willing to pay more in higher health insurance premiums or higher taxes to increase the number of Americans who have health insurance. (Chart 12)

Immigration

Most registered Latinos are positive about the effects of undocumented and illegal immigrants on the U.S. economy, but a significant minority is not. (Chart 13)

Most registered Latinos think that the United States should allow the same number or increase the number of Latin Americans who come to work in this country legally. (Chart 13)

Slightly more than half of registered Latinos responded favorably when asked about the immigration reform plan proposed by President Bush in January that would allow some workers now in the United States to remain as temporary workers on the condition that they returned to their countries of origin in several years. A much larger majority favored the plan endorsed by Sen. John F. Kerry and other Democrats that would allow undocumented Latino immigrants to gain permanent legal status and eventually citizenship. (Chart 14)

Looking to future flows of immigration from Latin America, registered Latinos are more likely to favor giving all legal immigrants from Latin America the opportunity to stay in the United States and become citizens instead of creating a temporary worker program that would require them return to their country of origin. (Chart 15)

Tax Cuts

Most registered Latinos say the tax cuts enacted in 2001 have not made much of a difference or they do not know if they have made a difference. The remainder of registered Latinos are split on whether the tax cuts have been good or bad. (Chart 16)

Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage

Registered Latinos are slightly more likely to say that abortion should be legal rather than illegal. (Chart 17)

Registered Latinos are split on whether or not there should be a constitutional amendment of the sort supported by President Bush that would prohibit gay marriages. (Chart 18)

Just over half of registered Latinos said that they could vote for a presidential candidate if they disagreed with him on abortion and same sex marriages. However, for about four in ten registered voters, disagreement on these issues could prevent them from voting for a candidate. (Chart 19)

Just about half of registered voters say that they could vote for a presidential candidate if they agreed with him on other issues, but not on the issue of:

However, just about four in ten disagree, and say that they could not vote for a presidential candidate if they agreed on other issues, but not on the issue of:

  1. Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University National Survey of Latinos, (Fielded June – August 1999): 48% Democrat vs. 19% Republican. Pew Hispanic Center/ Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey of Latinos 2002, (Fielded April – June 2002): 49% Democrat vs. 20% Republican.
  2. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Voter Attitudes Survey, 28% following very closely in June 2004, 31% in April 2004.
  3. In The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, Voter Attitudes Survey for June 2004 education ranked 7th in the list of issues respondents said they would like to hear presidential candidates talk about.