WASHINGTON — More than two-thirds of Hispanics prefer President Barack Obama to any of his Republicans rivals, despite wide disapproval of his policies on illegal immigrants, a new poll showed Wednesday.
If Obama were to face former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in November 2012, 68 percent of Hispanics polled would cast ballots for the Democratic incumbent, according to the survey carried out by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Romney would earn just 23 percent of the vote in a head-to-head contest with Obama, the poll showed. If Obama were to face Texas Gov. Rick Perry, another Republican hopeful, the split would be 69-23.
Such a vote count for Obama would signal a repeat of the record number of Hispanic votes he won in 2008, when he garnered 67 percent of the key voting bloc -- good news for his re-election campaign.
The Pew poll did not include figures about a potential battle between Obama and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Romney's main rival for the nomination.
Obama's job approval rating among Hispanic voters stood at 49 percent, down from 58 percent at the end of 2010, according to Pew Center data -- higher than his overall job approval rating of 46 percent.
The Pew Center poll was conducted in November and December among 1,220 Hispanics, 557 of whom said they were registered voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.
Obama's strong lead among Latino voters comes despite the fact that 59 percent of those polled said they disapproved of the Obama administration's policies on the deportation of illegal immigrants.
The Pew Center, citing U.S. government data, said an average of nearly 400,000 people have been deported each year since Obama took office.
The top issues for Latino voters are jobs, education and healthcare, the poll showed.
Among the more than 50 million Hispanics in the United States, about 21 million are eligible to vote in the November 2012 election.
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