Latino voters are more supportive of tax increases and more opposed to cuts in services than the U.S. population in general. This difference, which many of the country’s political observers were familiar with, was revealed by the most recent impreMedia/Latino Decisions opinion poll.
In addition, the recent debt ceiling crisis combined with the discussions on tackling the budget deficit and Wall Street’s ups and downs have motivated these voters, for the first time in six months, to once again place the economy and jobs at the top of their list of priorities, as we head into next year’s elections.
In recent polls, immigration had reached first place, although currently the economy/jobs and immigration are in first and second place respectively, causing much anxiety and worry to a group of voters that will be key in swinging undecided states next year.
“The economy returns to number one. Not only because the unemployment situation remains the same, but because it has been in the news often in the last few weeks,” said Gary Segura, a political science professor at Stanford University and advisor for Latino Decisions.
In the poll, 43% of Latino voters think the economy and jobs should be the number one priority for Congress and the President. Immigration is in second place with 36% and education third with 20%. The economic crisis and immigration continue surpassing the traditional priority for these voters, which historically has been education.
But when it comes to making decisions to resolve the budget deficit, Latino voters differ on an important point: more support for public programs and more willingness to increase taxes for the upper class. They are also almost completely opposed to balancing the budget following the formula of the GOP and the Tea Party: only budget cuts.
Only 7% of voters support the “only cuts” solution proposed by the Republican Party. For the overall population, a similar question in the Reuters/Ipsos poll in late June (approximately on the same dates as the impreMedia/Latino Decisions poll) found that 19% supported using only budget cuts.
However, the contrast is even starker in the question about tax increases: 46% of Latino voters are in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy as the only solution, while another 37% think a combination of tax increases and some cuts is the appropriate solution.
For the U.S. in general, only 12% of those asked the same question support using only tax increases.
These numbers are consistent with other polls that have been conducted over the years, asking Latinos whether they would be willing to raise their own taxes in order to fund improvements in schools, health care and other areas. They in general tend to be more inclined to wanting to invest in the public sector than other Americans.
These results did not come as a surprise for Susan González Baker, director of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Arlington. She thinks that although the middle class in general has been hit hard by this recession, the real estate crisis, unemployment and financial inequality have hit some people in the country harder, including Latinos.
Also, González Baker said that throughout history, many working- and middle-class people, including Latinos, have been able to climb the social ladder thanks to public education, social assistance programs, job training and others.
According to Professor Matt Barreto of Latino Decisions, this population is also “more likely to have school age children and interact with public child care programs, parks, libraries and others” that are affected by budget cuts.
“Among Latinos, we don’t find automatic rejection for taxes or the government,” said Barreto.
“I would say more than cultural, the reason is based in the history of race relations in the United States. White Anglos, no matter their social level, have aspirations they consider achievable: to see their family progress. Latinos and African-Americans have, as a way of saying it, the same aspirations, but more doubt whether they will come to fruition,” said González Baker.
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