Washington (CNN) – The heated debate over a controversial Arizona immigration law which partially took affect this week could push Hispanic voters away from a Republican party looking for their support, according to the findings of a new national poll.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday indicates that on the question of which party cares more about people like you, Hispanic respondents pick the Democrats over the Republicans by 27 points. And when asked which party agrees with you on the issues that matter most to you, Democrats hold a 25 point advantage among Hispanics.
But Republicans hold a 44-38 percent advantage among Hispanics on which party can do a better job improving the economy.
"Most Hispanics also say that the government is doing too much that should be left to businesses and individuals," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Although economic conditions are the No. 1 issue to all racial groups, the number of Hispanics who pick the economy is only 34 percent. By contrast, 49 percent of whites and 47 percent of blacks name the economy as the country's top problem.
"Some of that difference between Hispanics and other groups is due to a higher number of Hispanics who name immigration (11 percent) as the top problem, but education (10 percent) and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (13 percent) also draw attention from Hispanics.
The poll's release comes one day after parts of the Arizona immigration law took effect, while a federal judge blocked several of its most controversial aspects. The preliminary injunction, issued Wednesday, means that police are prevented for the time being from questioning people's immigration status if there is reason to believe they are in the country illegally.
CNN poll numbers released on Tuesday also show that Hispanics remain in the Democratic camp, but there are some indications that the GOP may make headway among them. Hispanics favor the Democratic candidate for Congress in their district over the GOP candidate by a 54 to 39 percent margin.
"That's an indication that Democrats will again capture the Hispanic vote in November. But they probably won't win this key demographic group with the kind of margin they got in 2006, when the Democrats racked up a 69 to 30 percent advantage that helped the party regain control of Congress," says Holland.
According to the survey, 57 percent of Hispanics approve of how President Barack Obama is handling his job overall. Obama gets low marks from Hispanics on the economy and illegal immigration, but they heartily approve of his track record on health care.
What does the future hold for Hispanic politicians?
Fifty-six percent of all Americans say there is an excellent or good chance that a Hispanic will be elected president in the next 20 years. That sounds good, but it lags far behind the number who forecast that a woman will be elected president (81 percent), and also is less than the number who say that a black other than Barack Obama (65 percent) will be elected in that time.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted July 16-21, with 1,018 adult Americans questioned by telephone, including a special sample of 308 black and 303 Hispanic respondents. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report