It's been a particularly bad week for President Barack Obama.
His new jobs bill seems to be going nowhere fast despite his stumping the country in support of it. The Democrats lost two special elections for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives—one of which they had held since the Coolidge administration—in what was widely seen as a referendum on the job he is doing as president. Newspaper headlines are screaming that some members of his party are ready to push the panic button, and the bankruptcy of a so-called "green energy" firm that received heavy financial backing from Obama's Department of Energy—and which involves at least one of the president's major campaign contributors—is taking on all the earmarks of an emerging scandal.
To put it simply, the magic is gone.
To add to this misery a new poll conducted jointly by Resurgent Republic, a group founded by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, and the Hispanic Leadership Network finds Obama's support among Latinos is shrinking in key battleground states.
According to the poll, among Latinos Obama is now below 50 percent "on two key presidential measures in Florida," a state he must carry in 2012 in order to win re-election. Only 46 percent of those surveyed indicated support for him on the generic ballot and only 48 percent said he deserved to be re-elected.
In New Mexico and Colorado, where he carried the Latino vote by substantial margins against Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in 2008, Obama is also losing support. In New Mexico his support has dropped by 11 points, with him now ahead 58 to 28 percent and with 56 percent saying he deserves re-election. In Colorado, which Obama won by 61 to 38 percent among Hispanics in 2008, he now leads but by 59 to 27 percent, with 58 percent saying he deserves re-election.
In each of these states, the survey found, Latinos believe Obama "has not delivered on the promises he made" to them in the last campaign, the group said.
"Hispanics have become significantly disappointed with President Obama's inability to keep his promises and the impact that his liberal policies have had on steering our country in the wrong direction," HLN Executive Director Jennifer Sevilla Korn said in a release. "Conservatives have a real chance of gaining the Hispanic support in these critical states if they are able to effectively engage our community on center-right policies that will successfully tackle our nation's toughest problems."
Majorities of Hispanics, including wide margins among Independents, say that Obama has turned out to be a weaker leader than they thought he would be:
- 57 to 34 percent in Florida (60 to 29 percent among Independents),
- 54 to 40 percent in Colorado (67 to 27 percent among Independents), and
- 54 to 39 percent in New Mexico (63 to 26 percent among Independents).
"This survey points to a number of opportunities and challenges for Republicans with Hispanics in these critical swing states," said Leslie Sanchez, Resurgent Republic Board Member. "President Obama is still popular with a majority of Hispanics, but more Hispanics believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and are increasingly concerned about the economy, unemployment, and education."
The facts are that, going into the next election, the GOP does not need to win a majority of the Latino vote to capture the White House. Simply winning more of it—a little more than a third of it nationally—would probably be enough to put Obama in a very difficult position. It is not so much that the traditional Democratic presidential coalition is coming apart under Obama—although that may be the case—but that he is chasing away just enough of the reliable voters in key parts of the party's base to make his re-election improbable.
- Read why Hispanics are key to a victory in the 2012 presidential race.
- Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on immigration.
- See photos of the GOP hopefuls on the campaign trail.