Last month, Obama announced that his administration would stop deporting illegal immigrants who come to the country at a young age and meet certain requirements. The directive is particularly popular among Hispanics, with more than 90 percent of those surveyed saying they’re in favor of the policy change.
Both campaigns are waging aggressive efforts to win over the key demographic. The Romney campaign has released nearly a dozen Spanish-language ads this cycle.
But the president's directive has placed Republicans on the defensive, with Romney's campaign caught between Hispanic outreach efforts and large segments of the GOP base, which regard the new policy as amnesty. After Obama’s announcement, Romney offered support for easing deportations, but said he believed the decision could make it more difficult to achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
Romney also opposes the DREAM Act immigration reform proposal, which is overwhelmingly popular among Hispanics — 87 percent support it, according to the poll — and has praised Arizona’s controversial immigration law, the majority of which was struck down by the Supreme Court in June.
Obama will need to maximize turnout among this key constituency in what is lining up to be a tight election, especially in swing-states such as Florida, Virginia, Nevada and Colorado that have large Hispanic populations. This could be a challenge for the president, as interest among Latinos in the upcoming election is only at 68 percent, which is 11 points below the national average.