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California Governor in Trouble With Latinos

La Prensa San Diego, News Report, Posted: Oct 16, 2006

A new poll of California Latinos shows a deep dislike of Governor Schwarzenegger. In this poll of 600 Spanish-dominant likely voters, the governor has higher disapproval ratings than President Bush, and is losing to his opponent Phil Angelides by 64 percent to 21 percent. Spanish-dominant Latino voters make up about 10 percent of the California electorate, with all Latinos now representing about 18 percent of the electorate as a whole.

These results are consistent with national polls showing a dramatic erosion of support for Republicans in the Hispanic community. In a recent NDN political fund survey, for example, Republicans trailed Democrats 23 percent to 59 percent with Spanish-speaking Latino voters, a dramatic drop for a group that gave at least 40 percent of their vote to President Bush in 2004.

Despite being an immigrant himself, Governor Schwarzenegger has completely lost the faith of Latino immigrant voters, said Steve Phillips, President of PowerPAC. The depth of dislike for the governor in this increasingly influential community will not be easily reversed and spells trouble for the Republican Party in California for a long time to come.

The immigration debate this year has turned Latinos across the nation against Republicans, adds Joe Garcia, Director of NDNs Hispanic Strategy Center. But here in California, if there is a close election, this deep and intense dislike of the current governor, if tapped into, could be the key to electing a new governor.

The poll, conducted by Bendixen & Associates on behalf of PowerPAC and the NDN Political Fund, suveyed likely Hispanic voters in three counties in Southern California, Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego, that are more Republican than other parts of the state.

Some of the key findings include:

Among this audience, Phil Angelides is leading Schwarzenegger 64 percent to 21 percent, despite more than half of these voters having no positive or negative opinion of Angelides (54 percent say he is unknown to them).

Schwarzenegger is deeply unpopular in these communities, with 69 percent holding a negative view of him. He is also seen as untrustworthy. Seventy three percent of these voters said they do not trust Schwarzenegger to represent the interests of the Latino community.

These voters are concerned about their growing inability to afford a middle-class life in California, listing the high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, and high natural gas and electricity bills among their top concerns facing the state. The national debate over immigration is also deeply important to these voters, with nearly 60 percent saying growing anti-immigrant and anti-Latino sentiment in the country has affected them and their family.

Fully 68 percent of these voters said the recent comments by Gov. Schwarzenegger, in which he referenced a Latina Assemblywoman as being very hot due to her black blood mixed with Latino blood were insensitive or racist, with only 26 percent agreeing the comments were mostly harmless, as was the primary reaction portrayed in the media.

NDN is a 21st Century Progressive advocacy and political organization. PowerPAC is a California-based political action committee working to get people of color engaged in politics and into political office at the local and state level.

Related Stories:

Chasing the Coveted Latino Vote in California

California Government Lacks Latinos in Key Positions

Schwarzenegger Attempting to Woo Latino Voters through Hispanic Media

Decision 2006: Elections in California

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