Was President Obama's announcement last Friday that he would grant temporary legal status to some undocumented youths a smart political move? Seems like it. A second poll since last week by the Latino Decisions polling firm shows that at least among Latinos in five battleground states, Obama maintains a strong lead over GOP rival Mitt Romney.
Overall in the key states of Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia, a poll of 400 Latino respondents found Obama leading by 63 percent over Romney's 27 percent.
There are regional differences, of course. In Florida, where more Latino voters lean right, Obama led by a somewhat smaller margin, 53 percent to 37, although Obama's lead there is up slightly from January poll results. In Virginia, Obama lead by 59 percent over Romney's 28 percent.
In the Southwest, Obama's lead widens: In Arizona, 74 percent of respondents said they favored Obama versus 18 percent for Romney. Obama also led 70-22 in Colorado and 69-20 in Nevada.
This is attributed in part to the new immigration policy announced a week ago by Obama, who promised to grant deferred action, or a two-year deferral of deportation, to young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before age 16 provided they are under 30, have lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years and have a clean record. From the poll results:
Part of this advantage for President Obama appears to be related to his recent announcement to provide relief to undocumented immigrant youth. On June 17, two days after his announcement our Latino Decisions/America’s Voice poll first reported that 49% of Latino voters were now more enthusiastic about Obama, while 14% were less enthusiastic (+35).
Romney, for his part, has attempted to appeal to Latinos this week with a softened tone on immigration. In a speech yesterday in Florida at a conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), Romney talked of a "long-term solution" to replace Obama's temporary one, an easier path to legal status and streamlining the process for work-based visas. But after harsher rhetoric earlier in the campaign, including talk of "self-deportation" in the GOP candidates' debates, his message has received mixed reviews.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who Romney confirmed is being vetted as a potential running mate, had talked of proposing a measure to grant temporary legal status to young undocumented immigrants who attend college or join the military. But Obama's strategy, which involves similar temporary status without a path to citizenship, pretty much uprooted that plan.
Obama is also addressing NALEO attendees today as part of his Latino voter outreach.