Dec 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Axios-Ipsos poll: Crime a top worry for Latinos

Top concerns of Latino/Hispanic Americans
Data: Axios/Ipsos in partnership with Noticias Telemundo; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Latinos say crime and gun violence is their number two concern — behind COVID-19 and before immigration, social justice or voting rights — in our inaugural Axios-Ipsos Latino Poll in partnership with Noticias Telemundo.

Why it matters: This finding and others in our poll could be warning signs for President Biden and his party next year, even as respondents by a two-to-one margin prefer generic Democratic midterm candidates over Republicans.

  • The survey also found Latinos are split over keeping abortion legal (40% for, 36% against), and a majority —56%— say the U.S. is in decline.
  • The top issues for Latinos are ones on which Biden and Democrats are struggling to prevail. This could translate to lower turnout at the polls — and some swing-voter defections — among an important, growing segment of the U.S. population.
  • One potential advantage for Democrats: Climate change was the third most-cited concern.

Between the lines: Among those familiar with the plans, there's two-to-one support for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal and Biden's stalled Build Back Better social spending plan, and three-to-one support for the Freedom to Vote Act, which aims to expand voter access nationally and blunt some states' efforts to restrict voting.

  • But three or four out of 10 respondents weren't familiar with any of those plans.

Driving the news: These are among the findings in the first installment of a major new national poll of U.S. adults who identify as Latino or Hispanic. We'll share more results in today's Axios Latino newsletter. (Sign up here.)

  • The poll examines the political, societal and cultural attitudes of a diverse population comprising nearly one in five Americans in the 2020 Census — and about 13% of eligible U.S. voters.
  • Respondents included first-generation and multigenerational Americans. They are Mexican Americans, Central Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans and others whose families hail from different places. They include voters and non-voters.

What they're saying: Cliff Young, president of Ipsos U.S. Public Affairs, said the survey shows that "Hispanic Americans really look like independents who lean Democratic, except they have some special issues related to immigration, racial inequities and economic inequities."

  • "They could very easily be swing voters from election to election, but the issues of race and immigration and the related framing around it has really pushed them away from Republicans."
  • Said Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson: "If it becomes about crime and the economy, that's good for the Republicans."

By the numbers: The Democratic Party enjoyed huge advantages over the Republican Party when Latino respondents were asked which party represents or cares about them — but those advantages evaporated when it came to the economy and crime.

  • 19% said Republicans are doing a good job on crime and public safety; 19% said Democrats are good; 20% said they're both good; and the rest said neither, or they didn't know.
  • 23% said Democrats are doing a good job on the economy; 21% said Republicans are doing a good job; and 17% said both are doing a good job.
  • By contrast, respondents were much more likely to say Democrats were doing a good job of handling COVID-19 as a health challenge — 37% to 11% for Republicans, with another 17% saying both are doing a good job.
  • But with the Omicron variant and a surge in new infections, Biden is struggling to move the country beyond the pandemic.

Between the lines: Mexican Americans were more likely to be worried about COVID-19 than Central Americans, while crime actually ranked as the top concern for Cuban Americans.

  • Mexican Americans are strongly Democratic, while Central Americans are Democratic but not as intensely and are less likely to be voters. Cuban Americans are more likely to identify as Republicans.

The intrigue: The longer a person's family has been in the U.S., the survey found, the more likely they are to vote for a Republican candidate.

  • Asked generically about the 2022 ballot, 30% of first-generation respondents said they'd vote for a Democrat, 13% said they'd vote for a Republican, 6% said they'd vote for an independent or third-party candidate and 51% said they didn't know or wouldn't vote.
  • Among second-generation respondents, the share who said they'd vote for a Republican inched up to 18%, while 34% said they'd vote for a Democrat and 14% said they'd prefer an independent.
  • Among third-generation and higher, 21% said they'd vote for a Republican, while 36% said they'd choose a Democrat and 10% said they'd vote for an independent.

What we're watching: Half the respondents — disproportionately Republicans —either believe the lie that millions of ballots were fraudulently cast in the 2020 elections (17%) or said they don't know what's true (33%).

  • But nearly two-thirds of overall respondents said Donald Trump legitimately lost the election.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Latino Poll, in partnership with Noticias Telemundo, was conducted Dec. 2-14, 2021, by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,064 Hispanic/Latino adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.8 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample.
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