Several weeks ago, Mr. Gray and the Committee for Justice published a poll purporting to gauge the views of Latinos on the nomination of Miguel Estrada. Gray claimed that “Hispanic-Americans are chagrined by Senate Democrats’ behavior toward Miguel Estrada and that a stunning 88 percent of them want to see Estrada get an up or down vote on the U.S. Senate floor.” Gray said his poll showed that Republicans “should continue to press the issue through Election Day 2004 if necessary.”
An examination of publicly released information about Gray’s poll raises significant questions about its methodology and the conclusions Gray draws.
The Committee’s own poll of Hispanic adults (not limited to Hispanic voters) showed that 65 percent of respondents answered “no” when asked, “Are you aware that more than two years ago President Bush was the first President, from either party, to nominate a Latino, Miguel Estrada, to be the first Latino on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered to be the second most important court in the country, and that Miguel Estrada has still not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate?”
The fact that nearly two-thirds of respondents were not aware of the nomination calls into serious question the claim that Latinos are “chagrined” by Senate Democrats’ opposition to Estrada’s confirmation, and that Latinos believe Estrada’s confirmation is important to the community.
What Gray calls “a stunning 88 percent” of respondents who supported an up-or-down vote on the nomination is hardly stunning, given that respondents were apparently given no information about opposition to Estrada’s confirmation by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a majority of Hispanic civil rights organizations, and community leaders. Respondents were given no information about the reasons for such widespread opposition to Estrada’s confirmation and no information about Senate Democrats’ rationale for conducting a filibuster against the nomination, including Estrada’s unwillingness to answer many important questions about his approach to the law and the Constitution.
On June 17, respected national pollster Sergio Bendixen released a survey of Hispanic voters. Bendixen concluded that “President Bush’s nomination of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. is NOT of great concern to the Latino electorate.” Bendixen’s survey found that more than 60 percent of Latino voters are not aware of the nomination or have no opinion on the matter.
Moreover, the poll found that twice as many voters believe it is the Republican Party rather than the Democratic Party that has blocked Latinos from government positions. The Bendixen poll also found a ten-point drop in Bush’s support among Hispanic voters in the past year, based on the president’s failure to live up to his rhetoric and promises on education, jobs, and immigration issues.