POLITICS: PennAve

Ted Cruz poll: Dems have edge over GOP among Hispanics in Texas

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Sen. Ted Cruz lost the Hispanic vote in Texas by about 20 percentage points, but out-performed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, according to post-2012 election polling shared with the Washington Examiner.

Cruz defeated Democrat Paul Sadler last November by nearly 16 percentage points on his way to garnering 56.5 percent of the vote. Romney bested Obama by nearly 17 percentage points while garnering 57.2 percent of the vote. But a survey taken about six weeks after the election and made available by the Republican senator's political team, shows Hispanics favored Sadler over Cruz 60 percent to 40 percent and Obama over Romney 59 percent to 33 percent.

The survey offers a unique window into voting patterns of Hispanics, the nation's fastest growing voting bloc, in conservative-leaning Texas, where exit polling is hard to come by given its reliable Republican voting record in statewide races and the high cost of gathering data in such a large state. With Cruz, son of a Cuban immigrant, exploring a 2016 presidential run, the poll could shed light on how the senator compares with other Republicans when it comes to winning Hispanic votes.

Here are some of the key findings from the poll, which has been shared with the senator's supporters and discussed by him at some length in various interviews.

• In Cruz' non-competitive campaign against Sadler, the poll's respondents said they voted for Cruz over Sadler by a margin of 38 percent to 36 percent. An additional 22 percent didn't remember who they voted for or voted for someone else.

• Given that the same poll showed that Obama beat Romney among Hispanics by 23 percentage points, Cruz' pollsters estimated that 80 percent of Hispanics in that 22 percent probably voted for Sadler, which is how they arrived at the Democrat's 60 percent to 40 percent victory over his Republican opponent among Hispanics.

• In 2012, the largest share of the Lone Star State's Hispanic vote came from a swath of southern and western Texas stretching from El Paso to Corpus Christi (31 percent) followed by metropolitan Houston (25 percent), San Antonio (18 percent) and Dallas-Fort Worth (13 percent).

• Forty-four percent of Hispanics identified as Democrats in the poll; 23 percent identified as Republicans and 30 percent described themselves as independents. By contrast, 40 percent of Texas Hispanics identified as conservative; while 36 percent identified as moderate. Only 18 percent claimed to be liberal. By religion, 58 percent identified as Catholic and 22 percent as Protestant.

• A 4 percentage point gender gap existed among Texas Hispanics who voted in 2012, with women topping men 52 percent to 48 percent. Meanwhile, 69 percent said English was their primary language, compared to 18 percent who cited Spanish; 78 percent said they were born in the United States, 13 percent said they were born in Mexico and 6 percent said they were born somewhere else.

• Sixty-eight percent of Texas Hispanics support increasing border security as part of immigration reforms; 10 percent opposed it. Another 20 percent were indifferent.

• Six in 10 of Hispanics in Texas support increasing legal immigration into the U.S., with 9 percent opposed. Twenty-nine percent were indifferent.

• Thirty-five percent of Texas Hispanics favor granting "full amnesty" and a path to citizenship to 11 million illegal immigrants now living in the U.S. Another 46 percent favor the granting of work permits only with no path to citizenship, and 12 percent said the legal status of illegal immigrants should not be changed.

The poll, conducted by Cruz pollster Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, surveyed 601 Texas Hispanics who voted in the 2012 general election, and has an margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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