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Latinos Favor Allowing Women in Combat

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Latinos overwhelmingly favor allowing women in the military to engage in close combat.

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 83 percent of Hispanics think women who want to serve in ground units that engage in close combat should be allowed to do so, while just 14 percent said it should not be allowed.

The Pentagon announced last month that women can now take on combat positions. Women were previously banned from such roles. Support for this idea is as high as it was when the ban was first lifted.

According to Pew Research Center, Hispanic men and women make up similar shares -- 12 percent and 13 percent, respectively -- of all men and women in the armed forces.

"But the number of Hispanics enlisting in the active-duty force each year has risen significantly over the last decade," notes Pew. "In 2003, Hispanic women and men made up 11.5% of the new enlistees to the military; just seven years later, in 2010, they made up 16.9% of non-prior service enlisted accessions."

Three-quarters of those surveyed in the Quinnipiac poll support allowing women to serve in close combat, but whites and blacks are less likely than Hispanics to favor this. A full 10 percent fewer whites -- 73 percent -- think women should engage in close combat, and 80 percent of blacks feel the same way. Support for the idea is highest, at 86 percent, among Democrats, and lowest, at 63 percent, among Republicans.

Hispanics are more divided over whether allowing women into combat situations will help or hurt the military's effectiveness.

Just under half of Hispanics think it will enhance effectiveness, while just more than a quarter think it will compromise it. Fifteen percent said it would do neither, and 10 percent said they did not know or declined to answer. A majority of blacks and Democrats think the presence of women will enhance effectiveness. Republicans are most likely, at 46 percent, to think it will compromise effectiveness. Interestingly, women are more likely than Democrats, blacks and Hispanics to think their presence would compromise military effectiveness.

Only about one third of Hispanics favor reinstating the draft, but if it were reinstated, 45 percent of Latinos would favor drafting women as well as men. Just shy of half -- 49 percent -- said they would not want women drafted. Only men are more likely than Hispanics to favor reinstating the draft. Republicans, Democrats, independent voters, women, whites and blacks are more likely than Hispanics to oppose the idea.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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