A new survey released Thursday shows that while Latino voters generally support the reelection of President Barack Obama by a wide margin over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, there are wide political divisions among the population’s religious groups, such as Catholics and evangelicals.
About three-quarters of Latino Catholics and 8 in 10 religiously unaffiliated Latinos support reelecting Obama, according to the report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Hispanic Center. Yet, when it comes to Latino evangelicals, a growing group that includes about 16 percent of Latino registered voters, just half support Obama while 39 percent support Romney.
By comparison, Catholic whites are almost split, with 47 preferring Obama and 46 percent supporting Romney. Among white evangelicals, Romney, meanwhile, has a significant lead.
The survey found that patterns similar to presidential picks play out among Latinos’ political party preferences. Eight in 10 religiously unaffiliated Latinos — the group makes up about 15 percent of Latino voters — and 7 in 10 Latino Catholics said they were Democrats who leaned toward the Democratic Party. For evangelicals, about half were Democrats or leaned Democratic and about a third said they were Republicans or leaned Republican.
For the first time since the Pew Hispanic Center started asking about same-sex marriage, more Latinos said they supported allowing gays and lesbians to marry — 52 percent — than the 32 percent that opposed it. When Pew asked the question three years ago, 44 percent opposed same-sex marriage while 34 percent supported it. Previous surveys by other organizations have also shown increased support of same-sex marriage legalization among Latinos.
Among Latino evangelicals, opposition to gay marriage is strong, with 66 percent against and 25 percent favoring. For comparison, registered Catholic voters support same-sex marriage at similar levels to registered Latino Catholics, but surveys of white evangelicals have found they are more opposed to same-sex marriage than Latino evangelicals.