A new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll of Latino voters shows Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney, 61%-27%.
That's nearly identical to his 67%-31% victory over John McCain four years ago, and if that holds, probably enough to win the whole election.
Obama also sports a huge favorability advantage (+35%) over Romney (-9%), and Latinos are more likely to think the country is moving in the right direction than the general population. That's good for the incumbent.
Meanwhile, Latinos feel good about the job Obama is doing. His approval rating is a healthy +29% and -- check this next stat out -- his approval rating on the economy is +16%.
Also, by +14%, Latinos think Obama has made the economic downturn better.
But it's not all good news for the president.
Latinos aren’t as excited about the upcoming election. A combined 68 percent of Latino voters say they are highly interested in the upcoming election (registering an “8”,”9”, or “10” on a 10-point scale). That’s compared with 81 percent of all voters who express high interest.
Now... two comments on this.
1. Romney is obviously way in the hole, but a lot of Latinos haven't made up their minds about him as a person.
To wit: 38% are either neutral or don't know enough about him to form an opinion. That gives Romney a chance to introduce himself to a big portion of the Latino electorate and, more importantly, to do it in a general election context; not a GOP primary kind of context.
2. The big gap can only help the Rubio for VP chatter.
I know, I know, I know... most people don't think Rubio will help much with Hispanics, and I understand their view -- supposedly, Hispanics will think it's a pander, Rubio doesn't have Mexican origins etc.,
But here's what Rubio can do for Romney -- he can get the Hispanic community talking again about the choice before them.
That doesn't mean they'll vote for Mitt; in fact, most will probably talk about it and then decide to stick with Obama. BUT... if there's 5% to 10% who actually do change their mind as a result of the Rubio Conversation, then that's golden for Romney.
Once again, I can't think of a more effective way for Romney to pique attention; then potentially penetrate the demographic than by picking Rubio. That counts.