How will Marco Rubio’s high-profile role promoting comprehensive immigration reform affect his presidential chances? More specifically, will Rubio, should he run for the White House, appeal to Hispanic voters who have voted heavily for Democrats in recent elections?
Maybe not. A new poll suggests Rubio would not perform any better among Hispanic voters than Mitt Romney did in 2012. The survey, by the organization Latino Decisions, asked 1,200 Hispanic presidential voters nationwide about various possible 2016 matchups. Rubio did not come close to competing with possible Democratic rivals.
In a hypothetical race between Rubio and Hillary Clinton, the poll found Clinton ahead among Hispanic voters by a 66 percent to 28 percent margin. In a matchup between Rubio and Joe Biden, the vice president led Rubio among Hispanics by almost as big a margin, 60 percent to 28 percent.
In both scenarios, Rubio’s 28 percent of the Hispanic vote was virtually the same as Romney’s 27 percent against President Obama in 2012.
Rubio did perform better than other Republicans among Hispanic voters in general election hypotheticals. A Clinton-Paul Ryan matchup found Mrs. Clinton ahead by 73 percent to 21 percent among Hispanic voters, and a Biden-Ryan race found Biden ahead by 64 percent to 25 percent. In a Clinton-Jeb Bush matchup, Mrs. Clinton was ahead 74 percent to 20 percent among Hispanic voters, and a Biden-Bush race had Biden ahead 60 percent to 30 percent.
Considering Rubio again, there was one area in which the Florida senator’s immigration reform work might help him, and that is among Hispanic Republicans and independents in a GOP presidential primary battle. Latino Decisions found Rubio ahead of the Republican pack among Hispanic voters with 29 percent to Chris Christie’s 14 percent, Jeb Bush’s 13 percent, and Paul Ryan’s 11 percent.
Of course, Hispanic voters are not a huge segment of the Republican primary electorate. The bottom line is that if immigration reform has perhaps helped Rubio’s presidential ambitions among Hispanic voters when it comes to his party’s primaries, at the moment at least, he scores virtually no better among Hispanic general election voters than Mitt Romney did.