February 6, 1997

Latino electorate continues to speak out on issues

Tomas Rivera Policy Institute, La Opinion and KVEA-TV Reveal Results of New Poll

February 6, 1997 -- Although it is well-known that the Latino voters visited the polls in record numbers last November, a new poll found that nearly one-third of the Latino electorate in the five-county Los Angeles was participating in their first U.S. election a number which far exceeds the expectations of political pundits. This finding is just one of many in an enlightening new Latino Voter Poll released by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI), La Opinion newspaper and KVEA-TV.

Latino voters' strong opinions were also revealed in the poll. Fully 63 percent of those polled asseerted that Governor Pete Wilson's proposals on illegal immigration reflect his "racism" against Latinos. Sixteen percent of survey participants added that their Democratic vote was cast primarily to punish the Republican Party and Gov. Wilson for their anti-Latino proposals. Yet 74 percent of voters who supported the President indicated that they did so because they support Democratic policies.

"Both parties need to analyze these results carefully. Republicans should take heart that close to 40 percent of all Latino voters state that they are undecided regarding voting for the Republican party in the future," said Dr. Harry Pachon, TRPI president. "In other words, the Democratic party has no sure lock on this electorate."

Closer to home, the feelings of Latino voters mirrored those of most states residents. Creating more jobs through economic reform was the top priority for most respondents, as stated by 56 percent of respondents. Combating crime, violence and drugs was a close second, with 52 percent naming those issues as priorities. Interestingly, only 24 percent of those polled felt that confronting discrimination against their community was a top political priority.

On the education front, 49 percent of voters surveyed felt that improving public universities and primary schools should be one of the nation's primary goals. However, 69 percent of those with children enrolled in public school rated the quality of education as either "excellent" or "good." Additionally, Latinos continue to support bilingual education, as well as a resounding belief (97 percent of respondents) that learning English is important.

The Latino Voter Poll is the result of interviews conducted in late January with 500 Latino voters who participated in the November election in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura. Interviews were conducted in both Spanish (74 percent) and English (26 percent), and results allow for a margin of error of plus or minus four percent.

*For complete results of the Latino Voter Poll, contact TRPI at (909) 621-8897.

NOTE TO EDITORS/WRITERS: The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI) is a non-partisan, non-profit research institute that focuses on issues of concern to the nation's Latino community. TRPI is affiliated with the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California and the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. For more information about the report, call (909) 621-8897 or e-mail TRPI at trc@cgs.edu.

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