October 29, 2014

Latino Support for Democrats Falls, but Democratic Advantage Remains

Chapter 2: The Nation’s Direction, President Obama and the Situations of Latinos Today

Latinos are generally more positive than the U.S. general public about the direction of the country and President Obama’s job performance, but on both measures their views are lower today than they had been recently. In addition, most Latinos say the situation of their community in the U.S. today is largely unchanged from a year ago.

Direction of the Country

Hispanics More Positive about the Nation’s Direction than U.S. General PublicLatinos are split in their views about the way things are going in the country today. According to the new survey, 46% of Latino adults say they are satisfied with the nation’s direction, while an equal share says they are dissatisfied.

Hispanics are more upbeat about the direction of the country than U.S. adults overall. Among the latter group, 29% say they are satisfied with the nation’s direction today, but 65% say they are dissatisfied (Pew Research Center, 2014e).

Despite their general optimism about the country’s direction, Hispanics are less optimistic today than they were in 2012. Then, 51% of Hispanics said they were satisfied and 43% were dissatisfied with the direction of the nation (Lopez and Motel, 2012). By comparison, among the U.S. general public in 2012, 32% said they were satisfied with the nation’s direction and 61% said they were dissatisfied.

Latinos Split on Nation’s Direction Overall, but Some Subgroups are More Dissatisfied than OthersBut Latinos today express more satisfaction now than they did four years ago with how things are going. In 2010, 36% of Latinos said they were satisfied with the direction of the country and 57% said they were dissatisfied. By contrast, among all U.S. adults, 30% said they were satisfied with the nation’s direction and 63% said they were dissatisfied in 2010 (Pew Research Center, 2010b).

Views on the direction of the nation vary among Latino demographic subgroups. For example, among Latino registered voters, 41% say they are satisfied with the nation’s direction today and 53% say they are dissatisfied. These views are similar to those seen two years ago when 45% said they were satisfied and 50% said they were dissatisfied with the nation’s direction (Lopez and Gonzalez-Barrera, 2012).

Views of how things are going in the country today also vary by primary language. Among English-dominant Latinos, one-third (34%) say they are satisfied with the nation’s direction, but that share rises to 45% among bilingual Latinos and 56% among Spanish-dominant Latinos.

Latino Democrats are more satisfied with the nation’s direction than Latino Republicans. Half (50%) of Democrats say this compared with 40% of Latino Republicans.

Obama’s Job Performance

Obama job approval among LatinosLatinos’ assessment of President Obama’s job performance is similar to that of the U.S. general public. Roughly half (46%) of Latinos say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president. Among the general U.S. public, 43% say the same about the president (Pew Research Center, 2014e).

Approval of Obama’s job performance among Hispanics and the U.S. general public has dropped since the last midterm election. Then, 58% of Hispanics approved of the president’s job performance (Lopez, 2010). The president’s approval rating among the general public has also dropped over the same time period. In 2010, it was 47% (Pew Research Center, 2010a).

Among Latino registered voters, the president’s job approval rating stand at 49% while 39% say they disapprove of the president’s job performance.

Latino voters’ views of President Obama’s job performance vary among demographic subgroups. About 60% of those ages 65 and older, for example, approve of the president’s performance, a higher share than any other age group. About half (51%) of registered voters ages 30 to 64, say they approve of the president’s performance. By contrast, among those ages 18 to 29, just 39% express approval.

Views also differ by primary language. Six-in-ten (61%) Latino registered voters who primarily read and speak Spanish approve of Obama’s performance, a higher share than among the English dominant (49% approval) and Latino voters who are bilingual (45%).

By political party affiliation, some 63% of Hispanic registered voters who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party approve of Obama’s performance, compared with 22% approval among those who identity with or lean toward the Republican Party.

Situation of Hispanics Today

Most Latino Voters See Little Change in Community’s Situation Compared with One Year AgoThree-in-four (78%) Hispanic registered voters say the situation of Hispanics in the U.S. today is about the same (56%) or better (22%) than it was a year ago, according to the new survey. But not all Hispanic voters feel the same way, with one-in-five saying the situation of Hispanics has become worse in the last year.

Hispanic immigrants tend to have a more positive view than those born in the U.S. of how the community is doing. For example, among foreign-born Hispanic voters, 30% say the situation of Hispanics is better today than it was a year ago. Among U.S.-born Hispanic voters, just 18% say the same. For most though, the situation of Hispanics in the U.S. is about the same as it was a year ago. Among immigrant Hispanic voters, 45% say this, while among U.S.-born Hispanic voters, 62% say the same. Similar shares of each group say the situation of Hispanics in the past year has deteriorated. Some 22% of foreign-born Latino registered voters say this as does 19% of the U.S. born.

Views of the community’s situation also differ by gender, political party affiliation, education and language. For example, among Latino registered voters, men are more likely than women to say the community is better off than a year ago, by a margin of 27% to 17%. There is a similar finding among Latino voters who identify with or lean toward a political party, with 26% of Democrats and 17% of Republicans saying the situation of Latinos has improved. Looked at another way, Republican Latino voters are more downbeat than Democratic Latino voters on the community’s situation compared with one year ago. Some 30% of Latino Republicans say the situation of Latinos today is worse. Among Latino Democrats, half as many, 14%, say the same.

Looking at the issue by language, one-in-four (25%) who are Spanish dominant say the situation of Hispanics is better today than a year ago, as do 24% of bilingual Hispanic registered voters. Among English-dominant Hispanic voters, 17% say things have improved for Hispanics in the last year.