CBS News poll: Hispanics in America

Demonstrator Carlo Martinez (right) waves a Mexican flag as his nephew Antonio Martinez holds up an American flag as hundreds gathered in Washington D.C.’s Malcolm X Park to commemorate International Workers Day in this 2006 file photo.

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

According to a new CBS News poll, the outlook of Hispanic Americans on their lives, their family’s future, and their opportunities in the U.S., is markedly optimistic.

And in what has been a bitterly-divisive election season, a majority of the American public thinks Hispanics have a positive influence on American culture -- both on society overall (51%) and on the country’s food (78%) and arts and entertainment (57%).

Like Americans overall, Hispanics think immigrants make the U.S. a better place (57%), and most support a path to citizenship for those who came here illegally (especially as children).

But unlike Americans overall, Hispanics place more importance on dealing with illegal immigrants in the U.S. over border security. Seventy-six percent of Hispanics, and 61% of the public overall, oppose building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

On the presidential candidates, 79% of Hispanics (compared to 56% of non-Hispanics) think Republican nominee Donald Trump is too harsh in his approach to illegal immigration, while most think Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s approach is about right.

Hispanics expect to see a Hispanic U.S. President in their lifetime, but for now they would like to see both parties -- but especially the Republican Party -- do more for Hispanics.

Hispanic Influence in the U.S.

Americans view Hispanics as having a positive impact on U.S. society: Fifty-one percent say the influence of Hispanics has been mostly good for America; only a few (just 13%) say it has been mostly bad.

Perhaps taking some pride in their heritage, Hispanics themselves are especially likely to say the impact of Hispanics on the U.S. has been good – 63 percent do.

Influence of Hispanics on U.S. Society:


      

Total

      

Hispanics

      

Non-Hispanics


Mostly good


51%


63%


48%


Mostly bad


13
7
14

Not much influence


31
27
32
              

   

   

   

Americans are inclined to say the influence of Hispanics on specific areas of society has also been more good than bad. Majorities see a positive impact in the cultural areas of the arts and entertainment and food, while about half say Hispanic influence on the economy and on moral and social values has been positive. Few think Hispanic influence in any of these areas has been bad.

Influence of Hispanics on ….

(Total Americans)

      

Mostly Good

      

Mostly Bad

      

Not Much Influence


Food and cuisine


78%


3%
16%

Arts & entertainment


57
3
34

Moral & social values


47
12
36

The economy


45
20
30
      







Hispanics themselves are even more likely to say the influence of Hispanics in each of these areas has been positive.

Influence of Hispanics Has Been Good on ….

% who say Mostly Good

     

Total

     

Hispanics

     

Non-Hispanics


Food and cuisine


78%
84%
77%

Arts & entertainment


57
69
55

Moral & social values


47
58
45

The economy


45
61
42








Hispanics: Optimistic About Opportunity and the Future

Hispanics are generally optimistic about their opportunities to succeed, and the future for their family -- even more so than Americans overall.  Six in 10 Hispanics in the U.S. say their opportunities to succeed in life are better than those of their parents (compared to 44 percent of Americans overall).  

Compared to Your Parents, Your Opportunities to Succeed Are…


      

Total

      

Hispanics

     

Non-Hispanics


Better
44%
60%
41%
Worse
25
14
27
Same
29
25
30








Hispanics are also optimistic about the future; 50% say their family’s future will be better than their life today, and just 26% think it will be worse.  This is in contrast to views among Americans more broadly, who express some pessimism about their family’s future compared to their lives today; 41% of Americans think the future will be worse.

Family’s Future Compared to Your Life Today:


       
Total       
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Better
32%
50%
29%
Worse
41
26
44
Same
21
20
21
      







Hispanics who were born outside the United States and Puerto Rico are more optimistic than those who are U.S. citizens about their opportunities to succeed as well as their family’s future.

Compared to Your Parents, Your Opportunities to Succeed Are …


        

Total Hispanics

       

Born in U.S.

       

Born Outside U.S.


Better


60%


48%


72%


Worse


14


20


9


Same


25


30


20










Family’s Future Compared to Your Life Today:


      
Total Hispanics      

Born in U.S.

      

Born Outside U.S.


Better
50%
40%
60%
Worse
26
36
16
Same
20
21
19
      







Hispanics’ optimism extends to their own opportunities compared to those of other ethnic groups. Most Hispanics think they have the same chance or an even better chance to get ahead in America compared to other ethnic groups in the country. Their views are similar to the broader public overall.

Hispanics vs. Others on Getting Ahead in America:


      
Total      
Hispanics      
Non-Hispanics

Better chance


19%
19%
19%

Worse chance


21
25
21

Same chance


54
54
55
      







Hispanics, along with Americans overall, believe in what many call the American Dream.  Seventy-three percent of Hispanics think it is still possible to start out poor in this country and become rich.

Possible to Start Poor and Become Rich in U.S.:


     
Total      
Hispanics      
Non-Hispanics
Yes
73%
73%
74%
No
24
26
24








When it comes to personal finances, Hispanics describe their household similar to non-Hispanics and Americans overall. Fifty-two percent say their household income is just enough to pay their bills, while 30% have enough income to save and buy some extras.

Your Household Income:


      
Total      
Hispanics      
Non-Hispanics

Can save & buy extras


33%
30%
34%

Just enough to pay bills


46
52
45

Not enough to pay bills


20
18
20
      







Hispanics’ optimism about the future extends to politics as well. More than six in 10 Hispanics say they expect that the U.S. will have a Hispanic President in their lifetime.

Hispanic President in Your Lifetime?


               
Total       
Hispanics       
Non-Hispanics
Yes
58%
62%
57%
No
35
37
34
      







But despite these rosy views of their family’s opportunities in the U.S., Hispanics acknowledge that the country is experiencing difficult times. When evaluating the country’s direction, most Hispanics -- like Americans overall -- say things in the U.S. are currently off on the wrong track, although they are less likely to say that than the broader American public.

Direction of Country:


      
Total      
Hispanics      

Non-Hispanics


Non-Hispanics


26%
32%
24%

Wrong track


67
58
69








Majorities of Hispanics -- and many Americans overall -- would like to see both major political parties do more for Hispanics, and that’s especially true when it comes to the Republican Party. Fully seven in 10 Hispanics want to see the Republican Party do more for them (compared to 54% of Americans); 59% want the Democratic Party to do more.

The Parties: Should They Do More for Hispanics?


       

Total

       

Hispanics

       

Non-Hispanics


Republican Party ...








Should do more


54%


71%


52%


Should do less


8
5
8

Doing enough


29
19
31
Democratic Party ...






Should do more
40%
59%
36%
Should do less
13
6
15
Doing enough
37
29
39








Hispanics are more inclined to identify themselves as Democrats or Independents than as Republicans. Only 12% of Hispanics call themselves Republicans, while 39% say they are Democrats; Forty-nine percent are independents.

Views on Immigration

Half of Hispanics in this poll were born in another country, and nearly six in 10 Hispanics think that immigrants coming to the United States improve American society in the long run. Most Americans (53%) agree. 

In the Long Run, Immigrants Make the U.S. …


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Better
53%
57%
52%
Worse
21
11
23
No effect
17
22
16
      







Most Americans don’t think illegal immigrants pose a threat to American jobs.  While 25% of Americans think illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. take jobs from Americans, far more -- 65% -- think they take jobs Americans don’t want. This view is shared by 85% of Hispanics and 62% of non-Hispanics.

Illegal Immigrants Coming to the U.S. …


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics

Take jobs from Americans


25%
9%
28%

Take jobs Americans don’t want


65
85
62
     







Americans continue to support a path to citizenship for immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally. 59% of Americans think illegal immigrants living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay in the country and eventually apply for citizenship, rising to 75% among Hispanics. Just over a quarter of Americans (and only 8% of Hispanics) thinks illegal immigrants should be required to leave the U.S. 

Illegal Immigrants Living in the U.S. Should …


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics

Stay and apply for citizenship


59%
75%
56%

Stay, but not be allowed to apply


12
14
11

Be required to leave the U.S.


28
8
31








Americans are even more forgiving of illegal immigrants who came or were brought to the U.S. as children.  Nine in 10 Americans, including 95% of Hispanics and 89% of non-Hispanics, support a path to citizenship for those who came to the U.S. illegally as children if certain requirements are met.

Path to Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants Who Came to U.S. as Children?


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Favor
89%
95%
89%
Oppose
8
4
9
     







But Hispanics differ from Americans overall on how to prioritize border security.  While 51% of Americans overall and most non-Hispanics think securing the nation’s border is more important than addressing the status of illegal immigrants, 59% of Hispanics think addressing the status of illegal immigrants should be the higher priority. 

Which Should be a Higher Priority?


       

Total

       

Hispanics

       

Non-Hispanics


Securing the border


51%


29%


54%


Addressing status of illegal immigrants


40


59


36










Despite this, majorities of Hispanics and non-Hispanics alike disagree with one proposed solution to border security: building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.  Sixty-one percent of Americans overall oppose this idea, including 76% of Hispanics and 58% of Non-Hispanics.

Building a Wall Along the U.S.-Mexican Border:


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Favor
34%
17%
38%
Oppose
61
76
58
       







Americans and Hispanics alike express clear -- and differing -- views on the two major party presidential candidates’ approach to illegal immigration.  Fifty-nine percent of Americans overall and 79% of Hispanics think that Donald Trump is too harsh in his approach to illegal immigration, while few say that about Hillary Clinton. Americans overall and Hispanics especially are more likely to think that Clinton’s approach is about right.

When They Talk About Illegal Immigration …


       

Total

       

Hispanics

       

Non-Hispanics


Donald Trump is ...








Too harsh


59%


79%


56%


Too easy


4


2


4


About right


31


16


34


Hillary Clinton is ...








Too harsh


3%


4%


2%


Too easy


39


22


42


About right


44


61


41










Other Issues

Hispanic Americans are more conservative than Americans overall all on two divisive social issues:  abortion and same-sex marriage.  Forty-two percent of Americans think abortion should be generally available in the United States, but this percentage drops to just 28% of Hispanics.  And while 24% of Americans overall think abortion should not be permitted, this rises to 41% among Hispanics.

Abortion Should Be …


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Generally available
42%
28%
44%
Available with stricter limits
32
27
33
Should not be permitted
24
41
20








Most Hispanics agree with Americans overall that same-sex marriage should be legal, but they do so by a smaller margin.  Sixty-two percent of Americans now think same-sex marriage should be legal in the United States, the highest percentage yet recorded in the CBS News Poll.  In contrast, this percentage drops to 55% (still a majority) of Hispanics.

Same-Sex Marriage Should Be …


      
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Legal
62%
55%
63%
Not legal
33
40
32








Hispanics under age 30 are more likely than those who are older to say abortion should be generally available, and to say same-sex marriage should be legal.

On other issues, Hispanics break in a traditionally less conservative direction. When asked whether they prefer a smaller government providing fewer services or a bigger government providing more services, Hispanics choose a bigger government by two to one, while Americans overall are divided.

More Government Services vs. Smaller Government:


     
Total     
Hispanics    
Non-Hispanics
Smaller government
46%
31%
49%
More services
42
62
38








This divide is seen clearly in the debate over the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), passed into law in 2010. Fifty-one percent of Hispanics approve at least somewhat of the health care law passed in 2010, compared to just 42% of Americans overall. Forty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of the ACA, compared to 34% of Hispanics.

Views of the 2010 Affordable Care Act:


     
Total     
     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Approve
42%
51%
40%
Disapprove
48
34
51
     







And by a wide margin, Hispanics (78%) are also more likely to approve of affirmative action programs that help minorities get ahead than are Americans overall (59%).  In this, they approve in a far greater percentage than white Americans (50%), but they are less supportive than blacks (91%).

Programs That Help Minorities Get Ahead:


     
Total     
Whites    
Blacks     
Hispanics
Favor
59%
50%
91%
78%
Oppose
35
43
6
19
     









Religion

Religion plays a slightly more important role in Hispanics’ lives than it does in the lives of Americans overall. Just one in 10 says it is not important at all to them, compared to one in five Americans overall.

Importance of Religion:


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics

Extremely


27%
25%
27%

Very


30
40
28

Somewhat


24
25
24

Not at all


19
10
21
     







More Hispanics attend religious services every week than Americans overall.

Religious Service Attendance:



Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics
Every week
27%
36%
25%
Almost every week
10
9
10

Once or twice a month


16
18
16

A few times a year


23
22
24

Never


23
14
25
     







Fifty-two percent of Hispanics in the poll are Catholic, and views of their Church’s leader, Pope Francis, are more positive than negative.  While just over half of Hispanics are undecided or haven’t yet formed an opinion of the Pope, 35% have a favorable view of him, and just 9% are unfavorable.

Views of Pope Francis


     
Total     
Hispanics     
Non-Hispanics

Favorable


40%
35%
40%

Unfavorable


10
9
10

Undecided/Haven’t heard enough


47
53
46
     








This poll was conducted by telephone October 6-11, 2016  among 1,331 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, Pa.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. 

Additional interviews were conducted with Hispanics, to yield a sample size of 404.  The Hispanic oversample consisted of callbacks to Hispanic respondents who had previously completed a survey as part of a random sample, and interviews with respondents whose telephone numbers were likely to fall in high-incidence Hispanic areas on landline exchanges and cell phone rate centers.

The weighting of the Hispanic sample consisted of non-response corrections for the callback numbers (to account for systematic differences between those completing and those not completing the callback interview), and a weighting adjustment to ensure that Hispanics in high-incidence areas were not over-represented in the data.

The Hispanic and non-Hispanic samples were weighted separately to match their group’s population characteristics such as gender, age, education, region, marital status and phone use based on recent U.S. Census estimates. The samples were then combined in proportion to their size in the population., and weighted to standard parameters of the total U.S. adult population.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. The margin of error for the sample of Hispanics is 6 points and 4 points for Non-Hispanics. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.  This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.