A survey released Monday offers fresh perspective on the push for Hispanic voters in the 2012 presidential election, with half saying they're neither Democrats nor Republicans.
The USA Today/Gallup poll indicated 51 percent of Hispanics identifying as independents, compared to 32 percent who called themselves Democrats and 11 percent who said they were Republicans.
The poll, however, took into account each respondent's partisan leanings. The majority of the self-identified independents - 52 percent -- leaned Democratic, compared to 23 percent who leaned Republican and 20 percent who truly had no party leaning.
Among registered Hispanic voters, the level of independents fell. In all, 36 percent of registered Hispanics said they were independents, and among that group, 60 percent leaned Democratic. Only 10 percent of the registered Hispanic voters who identified as independents had no party leanings whatsoever.
Latino voters are considered crucial to winning the 2012 presidential election since they make up an increasing large chunk of the American electorate. They also represent a significant part of the population in several important swing states, including Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
Romney faces a large deficit among Hispanic voters, who overwhelming went for President Barack Obama in 2008. The latest survey, from Gallup, indicated presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney with the backing from 26 percent of registered Hispanic voters, compared to 67 percent who back President Barack Obama.
Both candidates have released television spots in Spanish, and both spoke in June at a major conference of Latino elected officials in Orlando.
The dueling speeches came one week after Obama revealed a new immigration directive that would allow some illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents to avoid deportation.
Monday's USA Today/Gallup poll was taken by telephone between April 16-May 31, with 1,753 Hispanic adults questioned. The overall sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.