WASHINGTON -- Ahead of the 2012 election, Senate Democrats on Wednesday pushed a reminder of sorts that they see their economic policies as those most likely to reduce high unemployment among Latinos.
Democrats have an advantage in making that point, according to a recent poll taken by the nonpartisan firm Latino Decisions for networks Univision and ABC. That survey, cited by lawmakers on Wednesday, found that 57 percent of Latino voters (versus 42 percent of voters overall) said they trusted President Barack Obama and the Democrats more than the Republicans to fix the economy.
"The fact is Latinos are disproportionately impacted by high unemployment, and more than half are worried that someone in their household will lose their job," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) at a press conference discussing the Jan. 24 Latino Decisions poll and several others reaching the same conclusion. "Hispanic voters have a great deal at stake, and the Democrats' proposals for turning the economy around are obviously resonating better with them."
Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), had met with Latino business leaders earlier in the day. The senators talked up their efforts to help fight unemployment among Latinos, which is higher than the national average.
Latino support -- especially with a strong turnout -- could make the difference between winning and losing in the elections this fall. In 2008, a majority of Latino voters went for Obama, helping him beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the race for the presidency.
It helps that many Latinos agree with the Democratic Party on immigration, although many of them don't rank the issue as the most important. In another Latino Decisions poll, released Feb. 26,, a majority of Latinos across all origins and income brackets supported both the Dream Act, which would give legal status to some undocumented young people, and comprehensive immigration reform.
Republicans face an uphill battle for Latino voters, although Mitt Romney's campaign is attempting to make a similar economic pitch. The night of the Florida primary, a Romney adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the campaign, previewed the message the candidate would make to Latino voters nationwide.
"I think the best issue that [Romney] can go out there and talk about is, 'Look, I can sympathize with the issue of immigration and the Dream Act, but if we can't get this community back to work, then nothing else matters,'" the adviser said.
CORRECTION: The story has been updated to reflect the fact that Democratic senators cited multiple polls at their press conference.