President Obama is riding a huge surge in popularity in public opinion surveys among Hispanics, who are overwhelmingly excited about his second-term efforts to pass immigration reform.
Obama’s approval rating stands at 73 percent among Hispanics, a 25-point swing from his low of 48 percent in late 2011.
In particular, Obama enjoyed a major shift in support for his immigration policy. Some 63 percent of Hispanic respondents to a Pew Research/USA Today poll approved of Obama’s performance on the issue. In November 2011, only 28 percent approved of his work on immigration.
While Hispanic voters turned out in droves to elect Obama in November, many were upset over the record levels of deportations carried out by his administration. Obama’s inability to pass either comprehensive immigration reform or the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to young undocumented immigrants, over GOP opposition did not help his standing either — even as it hurt Republicans far more.
Led by senators like John McCain (R-AZ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), Republicans are now trying to craft a bipartisan immigration deal that they hope will boost their standing with the community. But they’re starting from an exceptionally weak position: Hispanic respondents told Pew they favor Obama’s approach to immigration over the GOP’s by a whopping 73-15 margin.
Obama’s relative popularity could complicate Rubio’s recent attacks on the administration for drafting its own immigration plan, which he called “dead on arrival” in Congress and warned would inflame Republican opinion against reform.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.