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New data from exit polls show Latino voters are strikingly diverse

Analyses of exit polls are detailing the values, concerns and motivations of Latino voters specifically. Their concerns, it turns out, are just as broad as those of other Americans.

Latinos worry about the war, the economy and the quality of the nation's leadership. As with other Americans, they are not concerned primarily with immigration policy.

Above all, Latinos are socially diverse. Recent arrivals might worry about different issues and vote differently than Latinos who are well-established here.

Ethnicity is neither the principal driver nor a predictable one in how Latino citizens express their consciences. That's a healthy sign of the unstoppable influence of U.S. culture.

Hispanic voters were distinctive in one respect. They deserted the Republican Party at a rate of nearly 2-to-1 over non-Hispanic white voters. What seemed to repel these Latino voters were added doubts about Republicans' concern for their well-being.

Immigration policy per se wasn't the dominant motivation for Latinos to vote Democratic, exit polls suggest. Instead, analysts say, it was the Republicans' hostile, even hateful tone that took the place of meaningful debate.

"It is important to note that immigration in the Latino population is never a top-tier issue," Pew Hispanic Center Associate Director Gabriel Escobar told the Chronicle's Michelle Mittelstadt. In fact, more than half of all Latino voters were born in this country, and of these, one-fourth to one-third routinely state concerns about illegal immigration.

But the Republicans alienated even these voters with needlessly flamboyant and aggressive measures that seemed designed to make a scapegoat of Hispanics.

Most egregious, surely, was the House bill that would have made felons of 12 million undocumented immigrants already in this country. Even Latinos born and raised here were disgusted at the gesture against hardworking people here because of flawed policy on both sides of the border.

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