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The Latino Vote is Split: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders Locked in Dead Heat for Community's Support National Poll Finds

First Posted: Apr 10, 2016 09:40 AM EDT
Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton

Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A new Public Religion Research Institute national poll finds that Latino voters are virtually split between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Conducted in tandem with The Atlantic just days before the critical April 19, New York City primary, the poll finds Sanders bagging 48 percent of Latino support versus Clinton at 47 percent.

Both Clinton and Sanders have been busy crisscrossing that region of late, desperately seeking to curry favor with the state's 19 percent Latino population, 14 percent of which are eligible voters.

Clinton has Scored Well With Latinos all Primary Season

To date, Clinton has scored well in states heavy on Latinos, earning victories in Florida, Texas and Arizona. Sanders, meanwhile, has registered victories in Colorado and Illinois, with the outcome in the heavily Hispanic populated state of Nevada still in dispute.

Overall, the PRRI results suggest Sanders could be gaining ground among Hispanic voters. Just two months ago, a NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll found Clinton leading him among Latinos 56 percent to 39 percent.

"Latino voters are more likely to be younger than white votes and that's been part of his appeal," PRRI CEO Robert Jones said in accounting for Sanders' apparent upswing. "He's been able to be very strong among younger voters."

Indeed, millennials are estimated to account for roughly 44 percent of the Latino electorate.

Sanders' campaign spokeswoman Erika Andiola added voters have simply come to know the candidate better and that also has paid dividends.

"At the beginning it wasn't necessarily that people or voters didn't support him, they didn't necessarily know him as well as they did Secretary Clinton," she said. "It was about getting the word out."

Meanwhile, Clinton spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa deemed the poll a "complete outlier," making certain to call attention to Clinton's big wins in Texas and Florida.

"More than half of Democratic primary voters have cast their ballots and Hillary Clinton has received the overwhelming support of the Latino community," she said.

Deeper analysis of the poll reveals that nearly six in 10 Latinos have a favorable opinion of Clinton, compared to 54 percent for Sanders.

Overall, Clinton's strongest level of support comes from African Americans, who favor her 63 percent to 30 percent over Sanders.

"Latinos, while they have become over time a stronger, more reliable constituency, they don't have the same kind of ties to Clinton that African Americans do," Jones said. "Those ties go way back to the '90s," he said.

Trump's Negative Image With Latinos Persists

Meanwhile, the poll also revealed that roughly 83 percent of Latino voters have an unfavorable opinion of Republican front-runner Donald Trump. In addition, 51 percent of Hispanic voters also have a negative view of fellow GOP hopeful Ted Cruz.

Recently, a group of GOP Hispanics publicly took both Trump and Cruz to task over their hardline immigration stances, which include pledges to mass deport as many as 11 million immigrants.

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