Latino voters, fueled in part by opposition to Arizona immigration law SB 1070, may be behind Democratic Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s new lead in a Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll released last Wednesday.
Tom Jensen, the director of PPP, wrote on the firm’s blog today:
When we polled Colorado in early March Michael Bennet and Jane Norton [vying for the Republican nomination for Senate] were tied. Last week we found Bennet with a 3 point lead. One of the biggest reasons for that shift? Bennet went from leading Norton by 12 points with Hispanic voters to a 21 point advantage. That large shift in a Democratic direction among Hispanics mirrors what we saw in our Arizona Senate polling last month- Rodney Glassman went from trailing John McCain by 17 points with them in September to now holding a 17 point lead.
Hispanics in the Mountain West are leaning much more strongly toward the Democrats since the Arizona law was passed. The big question then becomes whether there are white voters who are going to go Republican this fall who wouldn’t have if that bill hadn’t been passed. We don’t see any evidence of that happening yet- Bennet and Glassman are both doing better with white voters than they were before as well, although not to the same degree that they’ve improved with Hispanics.
Even so, Bennet only enjoyed a 42/41 favorability spread among latinos in the poll. His primary opponent, Andrew Romanoff, landed a 42/23 favorability spread among the same group. Romanoff has recently had to defend his record on immigration by addressing the legislation he sponsored as Colorado House Speaker in 2006 that targeted illegal aliens by making government-issued photo identification a mandatory requirement in applications for certain state benefits.