New poll of Latinos brings good news for Hillary Clinton

Latino Decisions poll shows that Obama's immigration action could boost the former secretary of state's '16 chances

Published December 3, 2014 6:23PM (EST)

  (AP/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP/Charlie Neibergall)

President Obama's executive action offering deportation relief to millions of unauthorized immigrants could provide a big boost to Hillary Clinton's expected 2016 presidential campaign, a new Latino Decisions survey suggests.

Whether Democrats can turn out large numbers of Latino voters -- and win the group by a decisive margin, as Obama did in 2008 and 2012 -- is a crucial question for the party as it seeks to retain the White House in two years. The poll indicates that Obama's immigration action offers Clinton a prime opportunity to keep Latinos in the Democratic column.

The president's action -- focused on allowing those with family ties and without criminal backgrounds to remain in the U.S. -- could spare up to 5 million immigrants from deportation. Asked whether they'd be more or less likely to support Clinton for president if she backed Obama's policy and vowed to renew it, 85 percent of Latinos in the poll said they'd be more likely to vote for the former secretary of state. Only 11 percent said they'd be less likely to do so.

Clinton strongly endorsed the president's immigration action, hailing it as a "historic step" last month.

“We should all remember … that this is about people's lives. This is about, I would venture to guess, the people who served us tonight, who prepared our food tonight,” Clinton said at a New York gala. “These are the lives of people who are, in many instances, longtime residents and workers who have not only raised children, but made contributions.”

After he unveiled his new immigration policy, Obama's approval rating skyrocketed among Latinos. According to Gallup, 68 percent now approve of the president's job performance -- up sharply from just 49 percent in early November.

Obama won 67 percent of the Latino vote in the 2008 general election, and increased his performance among the bloc to 71 percent in his 2012 reelection campaign.

During their fiercely contested race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, Latino voters preferred Clinton over Obama by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

By Luke Brinker

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