Latino support for GOP plunges in Arizona

Latino support for Republican candidates in Arizona has taken a nosedive, according to a new poll conducted by Latino Decisions for the liberal immigration group America's Voice.

President Obama leads Mitt Romney by a whopping 80 percent to 14 among Latino registered voters in the poll, the first comprehensive look at Latino voters in the state this election. 

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That's a huge spike from the 56 to 41 percent edge he had over home-state Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with Latino voters four years ago.

That spike in Arizona Latino support of Democrats is more dramatic than nationwide trends showing Obama leading Romney by a wider margin than he did against McCain four years ago. Hispanics are a fast-growing population both in the state and nationally and are expected to make up nearly one-fifth of the Arizona electorate this November.

While Obama is unlikely to win Arizona, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D), a Hispanic, is giving Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) a tough fight in the state's open Senate seat and could be boosted by Hispanics. Carmona leads Flake 75 to 12 percent with Latino voters in the poll.

While immigration is a secondary issue for Hispanics in a number of states, it's their primary focus in Arizona, according to the poll. Fifty-five percent identified it as one of their most important issues, higher even than the 44 percent who answered jobs and the economy. 

That outsize emphasis, and the big spike for Democrats, is likely due to the state's controversial immigration law, which was partly struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year. 

The law allows police to demand documentation papers from anyone stopped or arrested whom police believe is in the country illegally. While the Supreme Court struck down other provisions of the law, it allowed the "papers first" provision to stand, arguing that since that part of the law had not been implemented it was not possible to tell whether it was unconstitutional.

The poll of 400 registered Latino voters was conducted from Sept. 29 through Oct. 4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.