Discrepancies among Hispanic voters along lines of religion

religion | Oct 18, 2012 | By Martin Barillas

 

The Pew Research Center has released results of a survey showing that Latino voters in the U.S. are divided by religion as to their voting preferences in the November election. Of those surveyed, three-quarters (73%) of Catholics among Latinos, and eight-in-ten (82%) religiously unaffiliated Latinos support President Barack Obama. It is among Latino evangelical Protestants, who account for 16% of all Latino registered voters, that 50% prefer Obama, while 39% support Republican Mitt Romney.
 
The survey shows the same patterns reflected in Latinos' partisan affiliations. Eight-in-ten (81%) religiously unaffiliated Latino voters (15% of the Latino electorate) and seven-in-ten (71%) Latino Catholics (57% of the Latino electorate) are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party. Among Latino evangelical voters, identification with the Democrats is lower---- about half (52%) are Democrats or lean Democratic, while about a third (36%) are Republicans or view the Republican Party favorably.
 
Many Hispanics attending church hear from their clergy about various political issues and, to a lesser extent, about candidates and elections. Roughly half (54%) of Hispanics who attend religious services at least once a month say clergy are speaking against abortion, while 43% have heard clergy speak about immigration, and 38% say their clergy have spoken out about homosexuality. A smaller proportion, roughly three-in-ten (29%), report hearing from their clergy about candidates and elections.
 
The Pew survey also found rapidly growing support for same-sex marriage among Latinos, mirroring growing support among the general public. Half (52%) of Latinos now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while one-third (34%) are opposed. As recently as 2006, these figures were reversed (56% of Latinos opposed same-sex marriage, while 31% supported it). Latino evangelicals, however, remain strongly opposed to same-sex marriage (66% opposed vs. 25% in favor).
 
According to Pew, the Latino electorate constitutes 23.7 million eligible voters---- an increase of more than 4 million since 2008. Overall, Latinos now account for 11% of the nation's eligible electorate, up from 9.5% in 2008. In addition, Latinos make up at least 14% of all eligible voters in three battleground states this year---- Colorado, Florida and Nevada.

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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