WASHINGTON -- Latino voters seem primed to back potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in significant numbers, and President Barack Obama's recent executive action on immigration could strengthen their support for her, according to a poll released on Wednesday by Latino Decisions.
The Latino vote was pivotal to Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, and although Latino voters do not typically rank immigration as their top issue, many list it as an important and often personal one. Republicans vowed after the 2012 presidential election that they would focus on immigration reform, or at the very least improve their tone on the issue.
Congressional Republicans strongly oppose Obama's new executive actions, which could shield up to 5 million people from deportation, and many have vowed to do whatever they can to stop the policies from taking effect. But since Latinos strongly support the policies, Republicans seeking to reverse them could risk further damaging their chances of winning over Latino voters.
That would be a good thing for Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state. The new Latino Decisions poll -- conducted on behalf of advocacy groups Presente.org, NALACC and Mi Familia Vota -- found that 85 percent of Latino voters say they are likely to support her for president in 2016 if she says she will support and continue the executive actions.
That support could decrease if she opposed renewing the executive actions, which are temporary. Fifty-five percent of Latino voters said they would be unlikely to back Clinton if she said she would let the policies lapse.
After Obama's announcement, Clinton said the executive actions were necessary because Congress had not approved immigration reform.
“We should all remember … that this is about peoples’ lives," she said. “These are the lives of people who are, in many instances, longtime residents and workers who have not only raised children, but made contributions."