A mid-October poll of Latino voters in both Florida and nationwide revealed that W. Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama is supported by more Florida Latinos than supported John S. McCain III in 2008.
Sunshine State Latino respondents support the president 50.7 percent compared to his 50.5 percent of the actual vote in the last election, and their support of Romney is at 44.2 percent compared to McCain???s actual vote percentage of 39 percent.
???Latinos have more power than ever this election,??? said Florida International University political science Prof. Eduardo Gamarra, who conducted the poll with the assistance of Newlink Group, a Miami-based consulting firm. The poll was co-sponsored by the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald newspapers. The results were published as a report ???The Pulse of the Latino Voter.???
???If there is a strong voter turnout of Latinos in November, they could have significant influence on the outcome of the election,??? said the professor.
Latinos make up the country???s largest minority and about nine percent of the U.S. electorate, he said.
The most important finding was that Obama is losing ground among Latinos in Florida, but holding on to his lead nationally, he said.
However, nationally, three out of four Latino voters back Obama over Romney, he said.
Of the 720 Latino voters surveyed in Florida, Obama leads Romney by six points, while 4.7 percent of respondents indicated they were undecided, he said.
Another surprise in the poll was that 83 percent of Florida Latinos agree with the Florida law that requires voters to show an ID, he said.
The professor said the mainstream media has not caught up with the fact that Latinos support voter ID laws.
According to the report, among Florida Latinos, 36.6 percent identify themselves as Democrats, 35.9 percent as Republicans. Nationally, it broke 64 percent Democratic and 28 percent Democrat.
Nationally, 66 percent of the 1,000 Latino voters polled would vote for Obama if the election were held today. In addition, the majority???62 percent???responded that they are better off today than they were four years ago, the report said.
Obama did best with Latinos of Dominican descent, the report said. They supported the president with 86 percent to just 12.1 percent for Romney.
Across all countries of origin except Cuba, Latinos responding to the survey said that Obama is better suited to handle the economy, immigration reform and foreign policy, the report said.
Gamarra said in Florida, the strongest support for Romney was among Latinos, who are Catholic, Cuban and living in the southern part of the state. ???If you are a Latino living in South Florida, you are not voting for Obama.???
The poll???s margin of error is 3.5 percent. Just over half of the respondents, or 50.7 percent, answered that Obama has not fulfilled his promises to the U.S. Hispanic community. And the majority???54 percent???answered that they are not better off than they were four years ago, he said.
For a video of Gamarra explaining the importance of Latinos, click here.