Latino voters still undecided in swing states?

A new survey out today shows a large percentage of Latino voters in battleground states Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada are undecided or open to persuasion in the presidential contest, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEAO) Education Fund.

The results are in contrast to other survey results released in previous weeks, though and come somewhat as a surprise.

A recent Quinnipiac University/Wall Street Journal poll shows Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama leading Republican John McCain in Colorado among Latino voters by 68 percent to 26 percent. Overall, the poll of the more than 1,400 likely voters in Colorado showed 49 percent preferred Obama, compared with 45 percent who said they favored McCain. In addition, a Pew Hispanic Center survey, released last month by the nonpartisan research group, showed McCain struggling to match Obama’s support among registered Latino voters with nearly 55 percent of respondents saying Obama is the better candidate compared to just 11 percent feeling the same of McCain.

The NALEAO survey of registered Latinos in Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Nevada indicates Latino voters may turn out in unprecedented numbers this election and placed the economy as the top election priority for Latino voters with one-third of respondents indicating they have struggled to pay their mortgage in the last 12 months.

The Colorado Independent’s recent look at the Latino vote in Colorado and how it could impact the presidential election found many experts who agreed the economy was higher priority for Latino voters than immigration reform, which was such a hot topic four years ago.

Some of the same experts though, including Anna Sampaio, a political science professor at the University of Colorado-Denver who focuses on Latino issues in politics, said there wasn’t much either candidate could do or say to change the fact that Latino voters will come out for Democrats by a nearly 2-1 margin.

With so much conflicting information coming out about how the Latino population, which is rising in size and importance, will vote this year, it will be interesting to see the final results after Election Day.

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Jason Kosena

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