A new poll from Latino Decisions finds Democrat Hillary Clinton easily besting Sen. Marco Rubio in a potential presidential match-up among Hispanic voters. Clinton draws 66% of Hispanic voters, while Rubio garners just 28%. Against Vice President Joe Biden, Rubio trails 60-28%. If Rubio’s level of support looks familiar, it’s probably because Mitt Romney got 27% of the Hispanic vote last November.
Many GOP leaders have convinced themselves that supporting comprehensive immigration reform, with a path to citizenship, is critical in broadening the party’s appeal to Hispanics. Sen. Rubio has been a tireless advocate for this position for months and was instrumental in securing passage of the Senate amnesty bill. Yet, in this poll of 1,200 Hispanic presidential election voters, he garners the same level of support as the recent GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
Other high-profile GOP supporters of amnesty fare even worse. Rep. Paul Ryan only draws 25% support against Hillary Clinton. Former FL Governor Jeb Bush earns the support of just 20% of Hispanic voters.
Among Hispanic voters, 31% hold a favorable view of Sen. Rubio, just edging the 29% with an unfavorable view. Rep. Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush are upside down on favorability by 11 and 12 points respectively. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was an outspoken critic of the Senate amnesty bill, actually has a better net-favorable rating than all three. 25% of Hispanic voters view him favorably, against 20% with an unfavorable view.
The poll also contains “push” questions, wherein they read voters information about a candidate and then ask whether or not that information makes one more likely to support the candidate. When told that Rubio supported a path to citizenship, 54% of voters said it made them at least somewhat more likely to vote for him, against 40% who said it made them somewhat less likely.
Questions like these should be taken with a grain of salt, however. Voters will often answer such questions in a way that doesn’t match their actual actions. Partly this reflects the respondent’s perception of how a question “should” be answered. Skepticism is more generally warranted though, because campaigns rarely play out the way such a question is worded.
Voters know when a politician is pandering. Republican leaders would be better served articulating their long-standing core principles, rather than shape-shifting for short-term political benefit. Rubio’s standing in this poll of Hispanics ought to be a cautionary tale of that.