The study, released Tuesday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, surveyed 4,676 Hispanics and 79,000 respondents overall following the 2000 presidential election.
The results show that on economic issues, Hispanics tend to lean Democratic, while on questions like abortion and school vouchers, they are more likely to agree with Republican stances.
The study found that instead of a "Latino voting bloc" or "Hispanic voting power," there are distinctions within the Hispanic community based on country of origin.
For example, the poll showed nearly half of Caribbean Americans identify themselves as Democrats, while only 37 percent of Mexican Americans consider themselves Democrats.
Conversely, 39 percent of Cuban Americans identify themselves as Republican, but only 15 percent of those of Central American origins affiliate with the GOP.
Those numbers, however, don't clearly reflect the "wiggle room" among many Hispanic voters, said Frank Guerra, a San Antonio ad executive who has worked on several Republican campaigns.
In national surveys conducted before and after the 2000 presidential election, 45 percent of Hispanics identified themselves as Democrats, 30 percent considered themselves Republicans and 25 said they could move in either direction, Guerra said.
"It was startling to a lot of people," he said. "That told us that there really is no monolithic Hispanic voting bloc. Twenty-five percent still hadn't fully made up their minds."
That translates into a large, untapped electorate many political candidates are beginning to see as crucial to their success.
How will this shake out in 2004? Well, the Democrats are certainly paying attention to the other graphs on that page, the ones which show Latino support for specific issues like education and health care. In fact, some of them were talking about those very things in San Antonio yesterday.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, said the [Bush] administration has hurt Hispanics by inadequately funding health care, education and jobs.
They made their comments after a tour of a San Antonio Head Start facility, where they read to young children.
"George Bush is wrong for the Hispanic community," McAuliffe told a classroom full of educators and members of the media. "He's been a dismal failure on the economic front."
The visit came two days before nine Democratic presidential hopefuls are expected at a DNC-sponsored debate in Albuquerque, N.M.
McAuliffe and Rodriguez stressed the devotion of Democrats to early childhood education while criticizing Bush's plan to reform Head Start.
More than 67,000 Texas children, many of them Hispanic, attend Head Start programs.
"When all is said and done, this program works," Rodriguez said. "We are committed to catering to youngsters who don't have sufficient resources. The fact is, he's a Texan and he's not helping us."