Latino support for the war in Iraq and for President George W. Bush has surged since the capture of Saddam Hussein, but Latinos remain concerned about the condition of the U.S. economy and the long-term consequences of the war. In order to probe Latino views of the war, the economy, and the upcoming presidential race, the Pew Hispanic Center (PHC) conducted two national surveys of Latino adults. One took place in December 2003, just before Hussein’s capture, and the other in early January 2004. Comparing the two reveals dramatic swings towards more positive views on several questions regarding the decision to go to war and its conduct. Bush is the clear beneficiary with increased approval ratings and stronger support for his reelection bid. The shift in Latino views following Hussein’s capture mirrors the trend in public opinion surveys of the general public, although Hispanics are somewhat less supportive of the war and of Bush both as president and as a reelection candidate than the population as a whole. The two PHC surveys show that most Latinos believe the economy should be a greater concern for Bush than the war on terrorism, and that a majority is concerned about personal finances. Latinos are evenly divided over whether they expect economic conditions nationally to improve. Despite the impact of Hussein’s capture on public opinion, Latinos are split on whether the Bush Administration deliberately misled the American public about the threat Iraq posed to the United States before the war began, on whether the war is worth the toll it has taken in American lives, and on whether the president has a clear plan to bring the situation in Iraq to a successful conclusion. On each of these issues, roughly half of the Latino population takes skeptical views.
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