Poll: Education Trumps Immigration among Top-Tier Issues for Latino Voters

School choice receives strong support from likely voters in key 2012 battleground states

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WASHINGTON, May 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Education ranks behind only the economy and jobs as the most important consideration among likely Latino voters in five battleground states, according to a survey released today by the American Federation for Children (AFC) and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (HCREO).

The poll results revealed that improving K-12 education—and not issues related to immigration—is the second-most important issue in the minds of Latino respondents, and education ranks in a near-statistical tie as the second most important issue among all likely voters.

Voters in five states—Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Nevada—were surveyed by the Democratic-leaning polling firm Beck Research on a host of education and other issues that will prove critical to deciding the 2012 presidential election. A majority (58 percent) of Latinos surveyed expressed a desire to hear more from both presidential campaigns on how the candidates will improve education, and large proportions of respondents also voiced strong support for a host of private school choice initiatives, including vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs, education savings accounts, and special needs scholarship programs.

“The support for making education a fundamental part of the campaign discourse over the next six months is remarkably strong across demographic, geographic, and ideological lines,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior advisor to the American Federation for Children. “The message to the candidates is clear: expanding educational options for parents, and education reform generally, should be a priority in 2012.  It not only makes good political sense, but it’s the right thing to do, too.”

A total of 85 percent of voters and 91 percent of Latinos think vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs should be available in some form, while majorities of likely voters and Latinos also support specific school choice proposals as well. Support is especially high for special needs scholarship programs, which are favored by 74 percent of voters and an astounding 80 percent of Latino voters.

Latino respondents particularly supported arguments in favor of school choice because of the immediate help it provides to children from low-income families, and their positive effect on graduation rates, academic achievement, and parental satisfaction.

“No voting bloc is more important to this election than Latinos, and it’s clear that education is among the most important issues,” said Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of HCREO. “Latino families want their children to have a chance to prosper, and that opportunity best exists through access to a quality education.”

In a campaign season dominated by talk of the economy, more than half (53 percent) of Latino voters also cited education as central to improving our country’s economic situation.

The Beck Research survey interviewed a total of 1,050 likely November voters, including an oversample of 300 Latinos. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.6 percent.

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