U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a dinner with winners of a campaign contest at the Smith Commons restaurant in Washington October 12, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)
The latest tracking polls released by ImpreMedia and Latino Decisions revealed that support for President Barack Obama among Latinos dropped from 72 percent last week to 67 percent this week following the first presidential debate. Support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney got a slight boost from 20 percent last week to 23 percent this week, the polls found.
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According to the polls, 76 percent of Latinos interviewed said that the candidates' performance during the presidential debate influenced their evaluation of each candidate. Romney was largely pegged as the winner of the first debate.
With candidate's attention on Latino voters declining, election enthusiasm among Latinos has also dropped, the poll found. Latino voter enthusiasm slipped from 93 percent two weeks ago to 81 percent this week.
Monica Lozano, CEO of ImpreMedia, said, "The convention and events right after had a very positive effect for President Obama, but his performance in the first debate has led to a new round of questioning by Latino voters especially among the independents."
The tracking poll found that 32 percent of registered Latino voters identify as Independents. Within this group, 51 percent plan to vote for Obama, 29 percent plan to vote for Romney and 20 percent are undecided.
Gary Segura of Latino Decisions said, "The debate, and perhaps more importantly the press coverage after the debate, affected Latino voters like all others. Support for the president, and enthusiasm for turning out to vote, have both dropped measurably. This effect extends to his party."
"While the president still enjoys a considerable advantage over Governor Romney and the Republicans, it is clear that he and his campaign have serious work to do to recover the heights they reached in the post-convention bounce," Segura added.
According to the polls, 53 percent of Latinos believe that the Democratic Party is doing a good job of reaching out to Latinos, down from 65 percent last week. However, Latinos continued to believe the Republican Party was doing a weak job at reaching out to Latinos, with only 17 percent saying they were.
Both candidates have an opportunity to turn voter support towards their side during this week's second presidential debate. The next debate will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. on October 16 and will cover foreign and domestic policies in a town hall-style debate. The last presidential debate will be held October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.