A new poll conducted by impreMedia and Latino Decisions found that, for Latino voters, immigration managed to slightly edge-out jobs as the most important issue to them. From Impre:

Of important issues now before the president and Congress, 47% of Latino voters consider immigration or a lack of immigration reform most important. The second most important issue to Latino voters (43%) is the creation of jobs and the economy in general. And third and last (20%) is education, which used to be a main priority for this community.”Immigration is a very important issue for Latinos, and last fall it was in second place after the economy,” said Gary Segura, a political science professor at Stanford University and also an advisor for LD. “The community saw how the DREAM Act failed and new Arizona-style local laws. The issue has become a serious concern.”

The results come as a surprise to me. With very high unemployment rates among Latinos and jobs being the dominant issue for the vast bulk of the country, I suspected jobs would be the top issue for Latinos, as well.

The importance of immigration to Latino voters could have a serious impact on 2012. With anti-immigration forces gaining significantly more prominence in the Republican Party, and even formerly pro-immigration Republicans like John McCain taking a much harder line against it, this issue could push Latinos into voting overwhelmingly for Democrats.

On the other hand, the potential electoral upside for Democrats might be less than it could have been due to the party’s total failure to push for even very modest reform when they controlled Washington. Of course, in a two party system, simply being less hostile than the other party can be enough.