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Survey | 2013 Hispanic Values Survey: How Shifting Religious Identities and Experiences are Influencing Hispanic Approaches to Politics

[09.27.2013] Read the full report here.  Read the topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here. Read the news release here. Read a Spanish translation of the news release here. 
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2013 Hispanic Values Survey’s release coincides with the celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Executive Summary

Affinity for the Republican Party and the Democratic Party

Hispanics are three times more likely to identify as affiliated with the Democratic Party than with the Republican Party. Half of Hispanics identify with the Democratic Party (50%), compared to 15% who identify with the Republican Party. Roughly 1-in-4 (24%) Hispanics say they are politically independent.

When asked to provide top-of-mind associations of the Republican Party and Democratic Party, Hispanics offer significantly more negative comments about the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Nearly half (48%) of the associations Hispanics volunteered about the Republican Party were negative, about 4-in-10 (42%) were basically descriptive or neutral, and about 1-in-10 (11%) were positive. By contrast, more than one-third (35%) of the associations Hispanics volunteered about the Democratic Party were positive, 42% were basically neutral or descriptive, and 22% were negative.

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The Democratic Party has a significant perception advantage over the Republican Party across a range of attributes.  For example, 43% of Hispanics say the phrase “cares about people like you” better describes theDemocratic Party, compared to 12% who say it better describes the Republican Party. Notably, about 3-in-10 (29%) say the phrase describes neither party, and 13% say it describes both parties.

Less than 3-in-10 (29%) Hispanics report that they feel closer to the Republican Party than they did in the past, while nearly two-thirds (63%) of Hispanics say the same about the Democratic Party.

At this very early stage in the 2014 election cycle, Hispanic likely voters report preferring Democratic congressional candidates to Republican congressional candidates by a 2-to-1 ratio (58% vs. 28%). Among likely Hispanic voters, a majority (54%) say they would be less likely to support a candidate who opposes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for immigrants who are currently living in the country illegally. One-in-four (25%) say they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate, and 19% report that the candidate’s views on immigration would make no difference in their vote.

The Changing Religious Profile of Hispanics

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A majority of Hispanics identify as Catholic (53%), one-quarter (25%) identify as Protestant—nearly evenly divided between evangelical Protestant (13%) and mainline Protestant (12%)—and 12% of Hispanics are religiously unaffiliated. Few Hispanics (6%) identify with a non-Christian religion.

When comparing today’s Hispanic adults to their childhood religious affiliations, Catholic affiliation drops by 16 percentage points (from 69% to 53%). Evangelical Protestant affiliation has increased by 6percentage points (from 7% to 13%), while the percentage of those claiming no religious affiliation has increased by 7 percentage points (from 5% to 12%).

Hispanics generally have a more favorable impression of the current head of the Catholic Church than of the Church itself, although this favorability gap is smaller among Catholics. Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Hispanics have a favorable view of Pope Francis, compared to 54% who have a favorable view of the Catholic Church. Among Catholics, more than 8-in-10 (84%) have a favorable view of the current pope, and roughly as many (81%) have a favorable view of the Catholic Church.

Political Priorities and Immigration Reform

Like Americans overall, Hispanics are most likely to rank jobs and unemployment (72%) as a critical issue facing the country today. However, nearly as many Hispanics (65%) report that rising health care costs are also a critical issue facing the nation. Majorities of Hispanics say the quality of public schools (55%), the federal deficit (54%), the cost of college (53%), and immigration (53%) are critical issues facing the country. Fewer Hispanics say the growing gap between rich and poor (43%), abortion (32%), and same-sex marriage (22%) are critical issues in the country today.

Two-thirds (67%) of Hispanics say that immigrants currently living in the United States illegally should be allowed to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements. Roughly 1-in-5 (17%) say they should be allowed to become permanent legal residents but not citizens, while 1-in-10 (10%) say that they should be identified and deported. There is bipartisan and cross-religious support for immigration reform among Hispanics. For example, majorities of Hispanic Democrats (72%), independents (67%), and Republicans (53%) support a path to citizenship.

The American Dream and Opportunity

Strong majorities of Hispanics believe that the U.S. economic system unfairly favors the wealthy (72%) and that hard work and determination do not guarantee success for most people today (60%).

At the same time, a majority (56%)of Hispanics believe that children from all backgrounds have adequate opportunities to be successful in America today. Hispanics who are non-citizens (65%) and Hispanics who are naturalized citizens (63%), however, are significantly more likely than native-born Hispanics (51%) to believe that in the United States children from all income groups have adequate opportunities to be successful.

 Economic Issues: Strategies for Growth, Role of Government, and Health Care

By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Hispanics favor a public investment approach to spurring economic growth over a tax-cutting approach. Roughly 6-in-10 (58%) Hispanics believe spending more on education and the nation’s infrastructure and paying for it with higher taxes among wealthy individuals and businesses is the best way to promote economic growth. One-third (33%) of Hispanics disagree, saying the best way to boost economic growth is to lower taxes on individuals and businesses and to pay for those tax cuts by cutting spending on government services and programs.

More than 7-in-10 (72%) Hispanics agree the government should do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, compared to 25% who disagree. Nearly 6-in-10 (57%) Hispanics agree that it is the responsibility of the government to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves, compared to 40% who disagree. However, there are notable concerns among Hispanics about people taking advantage of government benefits. A majority (56%) of Hispanics believe that most people who receive welfare are taking advantage of the system, while 30% think most welfare recipients are genuinely in need of help.

Most Hispanics support the principle of a government guarantee of health care, but they are divided on Obamacare. Nearly 6-in-10 (58%) Hispanics agree that the government should guarantee health care for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes, compared to 39% who disagree. At the same time, nearly half (48%) of Hispanics support repealing and eliminating the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare, while about as many (47%) oppose repealing the law.

Social Issues: Same-Sex Marriage and Abortion

Hispanics are on different sides of the cultural divide on the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion. A majority (55%) of Hispanics favor allowing gay and lesbian Americans to marry, compared to 43% who are opposed. By contrast, a majority (52%) of Hispanics say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, compared to 46% who say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Hispanics appear willing to support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, even if they personally hold reservations about the morality of sex between two adults of the same gender. Hispanics are twice as likely to believe that sex between two adults of the same gender is morally wrong as believe it is morally acceptable (45% vs. 18%). Roughly one-third of Hispanics say either that it depends on the situation (8%) or that it is not a moral issue (26%).

Hispanics have a nuanced, situational view of the morality of having an abortion. Hispanics are three times more likely to say that abortion is morally wrong than to believe it is morally acceptable (32% vs. 9%). However, nearly half (48%) say their moral evaluation of abortion depends on the situation, and nearly 1-in-10 (9%) say that having an abortion is not a moral issue.

Hispanics are sharply divided by religion on the issue of same-sex marriage. More than 6-in-10 (62%) Hispanic Catholics and 8-in-10 (80%) religiously unaffiliated Hispanics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Hispanic mainline Protestants are divided, with 47% supporting same-sex marriage and 50% opposing it. In stark contrast, 8-in-10 (79%) evangelical Protestants oppose same-sex marriage, while just 1-in-5 (21%) support it.

Hispanics are also sharply divided by religion on the issue of abortion. Less than half (47%) of Hispanic Catholics say abortion should be legal in all or most cases; a majority (52%) say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Mainline Protestants have a similar profile to Catholics on this issue. Evangelical Protestants have the most conservative footprint of any religious group on this issue, with nearly three-quarters (74%) saying abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, nearly 7-in-10 (69%) religiously unaffiliated Hispanics say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Hispanic Catholics report more freedom to deviate from official church teachings on homosexuality than on abortion. A slim majority (51%) of Hispanic Catholics say it is possible to disagree with church teachings on the issue of homosexuality and remain a good Catholic, compared to 44% who say this is not possible. However, less than 4-in-10 (39%) Hispanic Catholics say it is possible to disagree with church teachings on abortion and still be considered a good Catholic, compared to a majority (55%) who say this is not possible.

Read the full report here.  Read the topline questionnaire, including the survey methodology, here. Read the news release here. Read a Spanish translation of the news release here.