The Pew Research Center has an interesting report on the political beliefs of Hispanic immigrants. Will they provide an electoral bonanza for Democrats?
Their answer is yes, but perhaps less so than many expect. The most interesting results in my view come when the Pew analysts disaggregate the numbers by the time immigrants have been in the United States. The longer they have been here the more likely they are to identify with the Democratic party. Those who have been here 20 years or more identify with or lean toward Democrats over Republicans by a 70%-15% margin–numbers that look pretty much like Barack Obama’s 71%-27% margin over Mitt Romney among Hispanics in the 2012 exit poll.
Among those here 15 to 19 years the Democratic advantage is slightly less, 66%-14% and it is slightly less among those here 10 to 14 years, 59%-15%. But among those in the United States less than 10 years, the Democratic edge is 50%-25%–a big margin, but not as overwhelming as among those here longer.
This result is contrary to what I expected. I thought that Barack Obama’s strong support among Hispanics would have made recent immigrants more Democratic and less Republican than those who came before. Does this result indicate some weakness for Obama? Or some residual positive response to George W. Bush, who was president when most of these immigrants arrived (net immigration from Mexico has been zero since 2007, according to an earlier Pew analysis)? The 2004 exit poll reported that Bush received 44% of Hispanics’ votes, though many analysts believe the actual percentage was several points lower. I think we have more to learn here.