More Evidence of Obama’s Solid Latino Base

On the heels of last week’s Latino Decisions survey, there’s a new NBC/WSJ/Telemundo poll of Latino registered voters that shows the same thing: Barack Obama is slowly but steadily widening his lead in this segment of the electorate amid signs that Mitt Romney may have blown a big opportunity when he got all Tancredo during the GOP primaries.

The new poll showed Obama leading Romney 67/23, as compared to a 66/26 margin last month and a 61/27 margin in May (if you’re keeping score at home, that’s a ten-point boost in Obama’s net margin in two months).

Now the conventional wisdom all along has been that even if Obama does as well as or even better among Latinos than in 2008, lower turnout could blunt or reverse the impact, and given the disproportionate economic battering this demographic has been taking, that’s a strong possibility.

This poll’s assessment of Latino voter enthusiasm is interesting, if murky given the usual problems in how to measure “enthusiasm.” Asked if they were more or less enthusiastic about voting “than in past elections” (which elections?!?), 50% said “more” and 32% said “less.” No telling what that means, but it doesn’t sound like a deeply discouraged voter segment. In a more absolute measure, “interest in the elections” on a scale of 1 to 10, the percentage at the very interested level of “10” is down from 59% at this point in 2008 to 49% today, but those at a level of “7” or higher isn’t that different (83% in 2008, 78% today).

Interestingly enough, Romney’s sharing his Latino problems with his party: respondents to this survey preferred a Democratic-controlled to a Republican-controlled Congress by a 64/24 margin, again representing a sizable net boost from the 58/30 margin in May.

Neil King’s report on the survey for WSJ ended with this note:

If there’s a long-term silver lining for the GOP in the poll, it’s this: Nearly 40% of the respondents said they considered themselves conservatives.

Maybe that’s a “long-term silver lining”, but it’s also a short-term alarm signal: when you’re bouncing around in the 20s with a demographic category that’s nearly 40% self-identified conservative, and you’re running against an incumbent when the economy is terrible, you must be doing something very wrong.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.