Fifty-five per cent of Hispanic voters, who constitute an important segment of the US electorate, prefer Democrat presidential hopeful Barack Obama to his Republican rival John McCain, EFE news agency reported on Saturday quoting a new poll.
The latest figures from a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center put Obama well ahead of McCain.
Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing minority community in the US and their vote is highly important for both the candidates, not so much for their numerical strength - nine percent of the electorate - but for their concentration in key states like Florida, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.
About 50 percent of the Hispanics registered to vote considered Obama more qualified than his opponent to defend the rights of immigrants, compared with 12 percent who favoured McCain.
McCain was described by only 11 percent of the sample as capable of protecting the interest of Latinos who represent 15.4 percent of the US population.
While seven percent of Latinos said that the Republican Party best defends their interests, almost half the sample - 49 percent - preferred the Democratic Party in that regard.
Seventy-three percent of the sample condemned the criminal prosecution of undocumented immigrants working without permits, according to the survey.