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Ahead of the midterm elections, many Latinos don’t see a difference in what Democrats and Republicans stand for

Attendees hold letters reading "Vote" in Spanish during a campaign event with Tim Kaine, 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016. Five days from the U.S. presidential election, polls released Thursday showed the race narrowing, with Democrat Hillary Clinton holding on to a slim lead over Republican Donald Trump. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

(CNN) — While more Latinos say Democrats work hard to earn their votes than Republicans, about half of them don’t see a “great deal of difference” in what the two political parties stand for, a new poll shows.

A Pew Research Center survey, published Thursday, analyzes Latinos’ political views and the issues they consider of most importance in the midterm elections.

The survey was conducted in August among a randomly selected sample of 3,029 Latino adults, the center said.

Overall, 71% of Latino respondents said the statement that the Democratic Party “works hard to earn” Latinos’ votes describes their views at least somewhat well, compared to 45% of Latinos who said the same about the GOP, the survey found.

A significant share — between 42% and 48% — of Latinos in certain groups said the statement “Democrats work hard to earn Latinos’ votes” described their views very or extremely well. Those groups were immigrants, Spanish-dominant Latinos, Catholics, and evangelical Protestants as well as Latinos ages 50 to 64, and ages 65 or older, the survey shows.

Most Latinos, the survey shows, have a positive assessment of Democrats, but about a third of respondents said they don’t believe the Democratic party represents their interests or really cares about Latinos.

When asked for their opinion about Republicans, 63% of respondents said they do not believe the GOP really cares about Latinos, the survey said.

Researchers also analyzed the respondents’ family origins and found that those who identify as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Central American and South American were more likely to say that Democrats represent their interests well than to say the same of Republicans. Meanwhile, Cubans were split on their assessment of Democrats and Republicans.

Since the 2020 election, the idea of a rising number of Latino Republican voters has dominated headlines and the victory of Republican Mayra Flores in the special election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District in June brought renewed attention to the issue.

But the survey shows the party affiliation of Latinos has not significantly changed in recent years, said Jens Manuel Krogstad, a senior writer and editor at the Pew Research Center and lead author of the report.

About 64% of Latino registered voters said they identified with or lean toward the Democratic Party and 33% identified with the Republican Party. Researchers said previous Pew Research studies showed the party affiliation of Latinos has remained steady since at least 2019.

Data from the survey shows Latinos may not be completely out of the GOP’s reach. Krogstad said Latinos “fit imperfectly into the nation’s polarized two-party system” and they “are charting their own course in some ways.”

About half of Latinos do not think there’s a “great deal of difference” in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for. Those with a high school education or less are more likely than those with at least a bachelor’s degree to say that there’s hardly any difference at all between parties, researchers said.

For the most part Latinos have positive views about the political party they are affiliated with but some expressed favorable views of the opposing party.

About a third of Latino Republicans said it described their beliefs “at least somewhat well” to say that Democrats really care about Latinos. About 21% of Latino Democrats said the same about the GOP, according to the survey.

Abortion is a key voting issue for nearly 60% of Latinos

Latinos who took part in the survey discussed their views on the midterm elections. Among those who said they were registered voters, only 30% said they have given “a lot of thought” to the election.

About half of Latino registered voters said they would vote for or are leaning toward a Democratic candidate and 28% said they would vote for a Republican candidate. But about 18% said they would vote for another candidate or were not sure who they would vote for, the survey shows.

Latino registered voters identified several issues they consider as important when making a voting decision but the economy is a top issue. At least 80% of respondents in this group said it is “very important,” according to the survey. That includes 90% of Latino Republicans and 75% Latino Democrats.

Most Latinos identified health care, education and violent crime as other important issues for them, but abortion and gun policy would play an important role in Latino voting decisions, the survey said.

The report’s authors said abortion has risen in importance — from 42% to 57% — among Latinos who are registered to vote. The change is largely driven by Latino Democrats, the survey shows.

When asked about their voting decisions, most Latino registered voters said they would probably or definitely not vote for a candidate who disagrees with them on abortion and gun policy even if the candidate agrees with them on most other issues. Sixty-one percent of Latinos registered to vote said the same about immigration and the economy, the survey said.

A 57% majority of Latinos said abortion should be legal in at least some cases and 73% of Latinos said it is more important to control gun ownership than protect the right of Americans to own guns, according to the survey.

Pew Research surveyed 3,029 US Latino adults from August 1-14, using a nationally representative online panel. Results for the full sample of Latino respondents have a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.

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