President Obama’s decision to change to his administration's deportation policies has energized Hispanic voters in five critical swing-states that have large Latino populations.
In Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Virginia, 49 percent of Latino voters said the policy made them more enthusiastic about Obama, compared to 14 percent who were less enthusiastic, according to a Latino Decisions-America’s Voice poll conducted over the weekend.
Ahead of Obama's announcement, polls showed presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney narrowing the gap with the president in those five states.
Obama led Romney by 13 points in Colorado, according a Public Policy Polling survey from early April, but the three most recent polls in that state showed the candidates in a statistical tie.
In Nevada, a state the president won by 12.5 points in 2008, Obama's lead has slipped from 8 points in a recent PPP poll to 5 points, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls. And Obama’s lead in Virginia had been cut in half, from 6 points to 3, according to the RCP average.
Obama already had a massive lead among Hispanics overall, leading Romney by 34 points, 61 percent to 27, in a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll released late last month.
Even if Obama has hit a ceiling with Hispanic support, the Latino Decisions-America's Voice poll indicates the policy change could help rally Hispanic voters to the polls in an election where voter turnout could decide the results in several states.
Some immigrant activist groups had been critical of the record number of deportations under the Obama administration, and a Latino Decisions-Univision poll released earlier this year showed Obama was suffering from an enthusiasm gap with the group. At the time, 53 percent of Latino voters said they were less enthusiastic about voting for Obama than they were in 2008.
After Friday’s announcement, Romney offered support for easing deportations but said he believed the decision could make it more difficult to win immigration reform.
“I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis so they know what their future would be in this country,” Romney said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
On Sunday, the presumptive GOP nominee said Obama's announcement was an election-year ploy. "I think the timing is pretty clear," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
He also avoided taking a clear stance on the policy.
“Well, it would be overtaken by events if you will, by virtue of my putting in place a long-term solution with legislation which creates law that relates to these individuals such that they know what their setting is going to be, not just for the term of a president but on a permanent basis,” Romney said. He declined to say if he'd leave Obama's policy in place while he worked out his own.
Romney is against the DREAM Act, which is overwhelmingly popular among Hispanics — 87 percent support it, according to the poll — and has praised Arizona’s controversial immigration law, which the Obama administration is suing the state over.
The poll found that these positions made 59 percent of Hispanic voters in the five swing-states less enthusiastic about Romney.