If Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., decides to run in the 2016 presidential election, a new poll shows that half of Latinos who voted Democratic in the last two elections may switch allegiance thanks to the senator’s work on the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill.
The immigration overhaul cleared the Senate last week with 68-32 votes. Rubio was the lead conservative on the legislation, which provides a path to citizenship and improvements to border security. (The bill has not yet passed the House, where it may face serious hurdles.)
Polling firm Latino Decisions released a new survey on Tuesday in which it found that 54 percent of Latino voters were very likely or somewhat likely to support Rubio in a presidential bid. That also includes 50 percent of those who voted for Obama in the last election. The junior Florida senator would also get a boost from young Latino voters (55 percent) and independents (46 percent), according to the survey.
Rubio scored highly when these voters were told about his role in the reforming the legislation. However, when respondents weren’t informed of the Florida Republican’s work to pass the measure, he scored less than 30 percent of the likely votes.
Researchers polled 1,200 Latino voters who all voted in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. They found that Rubio isn’t the only one who could benefit from working to provide current undocumented immigrants with legal status.
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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush could be seen more favorably as well -- 47 percent said they would be likely to vote for him, including 42 percent of Obama supporters -- if he could influence the Republican Party to enact a bill that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Likewise, 44 percent would be likely to vote for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan if he did the same. Ryan was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year, running on Mitt Romney’s platform, which included "self-deportation" for immigrants. The Republican ticket was crushed by Obama among Hispanics.