For the last several elections cycles, America’s Voice has worked closely with Latino Decisions to monitor Latino and immigrant attitudes towards candidates and the issues impacting their community.
In 2016, Latino voters will play a decisive role in the election of the next President. This report catalogs and documents our research demonstrating how the Latino and immigrant community will shape this election cycle.
In this report, we examine the role that Latino voters will play in key battleground states of Nevada, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and Virginia, which are frequently noted for their Latino populations – and several other states, including Ohio and North Carolina, where Latino voters could tip the balance.
The 2016 Election
According to recent polling, at the national level, when asked about the head-to-head matchup between the parties’ two presumptive presidential nominees, Latino voters nationwide prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 70%-19% margin. This puts Trump on track to underperform Mitt Romney’s historically poor performance among Latino voters in 2012, when they supported President Obama by a 75%-23% margin over Romney, according to Latino Decisions 2012 Election Eve polling (71%-27% in media-sponsored exit polls).
When asked about candidate favorability, 74% of Latino voters hold an unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump, including 67% who have a “very unfavorable” opinion. This compares to just 21% who view Trump as “very” (10%) or “somewhat” (11%) favorable – putting his net favorability underwater by 53 percentage points. Comparatively, Hillary Clinton has a positive favorability rating among Latino voters by a 68%-29% margin.
Nationally, almost three in four Latino voters (73%) say the Republican Party “doesn’t care too much about Latinos” (45%) or that the GOP is “sometimes hostile towards Latinos” (28%), while just 21% say the Republican Party “truly cares about the Latino community.” Of note, 43% of self-identified Latino Republican respondents say their own party is indifferent or hostile to Latinos. When Latino voters are asked if the GOP has, with Trump as their nominee, become more welcoming to Latinos, more hostile to Latinos, or has not really changed, 70% say the Republican Party has become more hostile, 10% say the Republican Party has become more welcoming, and 16% say no change.
Perhaps unsurprisingly in light of the overall tarnished Republican brand, Latino voters prefer generic Democratic candidates over generic Republican candidates in Congressional contests by a 60%-14% margin.
The Latino Vote in Arizona
The Latino population in Arizona will be a deciding factor in this year’s elections. A state that typically votes Republican, Arizona has been classified by some media outlets as either a toss-up or leaning red instead of being classified as a solid lock for Republicans.
Latinos make up 22% of the voting-eligible population, making Arizona the state with the fourth largest Latino statewide population that is eligible to vote. 87.7% of the Latino population in Arizona is of Mexican descent, which means Donald Trump’s comments on Mexico and Mexican immigrants as “criminals,” “drug dealers,” and “rapists” will likely have a tremendous impact.
The Latino Vote and the GOP in Arizona
In 2012, President Obama lost Arizona by a 54-44% margin; however, he carried the Latino vote by a 74-25% margin. The Arizona GOP cannot afford to alienate almost a quarter of the entire voting bloc comprised of Latinos, especially since Arizona needs to continue being a red state in order for Republicans to achieve victory.
In his 2010 reelection to the Senate, Sen. John McCain received 40% of the Latino vote. With his endorsement of Donald Trump as well as his opposition to the DACA/DAPA programs, this number can be reasonably expected to go down when he faces off against Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in November.
GOP Hostility Towards Immigrant Families in Arizona
Immigrant families in Arizona have been under attack for the past five years. In 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, which made it illegal to not carry documents proving legal status. This facilitated racial profiling of Latinos, immigrant or not, from law enforcement officials across the state. Both Governor Brewer and her successor, Governor Doug Ducey, having endorsed and campaigned for Donald Trump, proved that Arizona’s Republican leaders now align with his hardline immigration stance.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is a prominent figure when defining the GOP’s hostility towards Latinos. His practices have come under major scrutiny by the Department of Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other organizations for the racial profiling of Latinos, which eventually led to the Department of Homeland Security to strip to revoke authority from his officers to detain people on immigration charges. He has fully embraced, endorsed, and campaigned with Donald Trump, who continues to take a hardline stance on immigration that alienates all Latinos, immigrant or not. Arpaio is facing a serious challenge this year from Paul Penzone, who narrowly lost to Arpaio in 2012. Polls show the race to be very tight.
Outside of the headline-making policies, Arizona’s immigration policies prohibit immigrants from acquiring a driver’s license, from receiving public benefits (except for health care and emergency services), and in-state tuition at public universities. According to a study from UCLA, the state of Arizona and its policies rank among the worst when it comes to treating undocumented immigrants and their overall well-being. Some of the policies in Arizona that exclude undocumented immigrants include access to children’s health insurance, prenatal care, consideration for Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) benefits, and the mandatory use of E-Verify systems for all employers.
Donald Trump Will Hurt the Arizona GOP for Years to Come
Due to Donald Trump’s divisive and alienating rhetoric against immigrants, Republicans in Arizona are going to have a tough time for the presidential and Senate elections. In 2012, Latinos made up 18% of the voting bloc in Arizona. In 2014, that number rose to 22%, and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
According to an August 2016 Latino Decisions poll, when asked what they think of Republican nominee Donald Trump, 79% of Arizona likely Latino voters say they hold an unfavorable view of Trump, with 71% of total respondents classifying their opinion as very unfavorable. Only 18% of respondents hold a favorable view of Trump. On the other hand, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s pro-immigrant stance has earned her a highly favorable opinion among Latinos by a margin of 67%-31%.
These numbers are further verified by a Univision poll of Latino voters that was conducted this month. When asked about Donald Trump, he is viewed unfavorably by 78% of respondents, including 72% who view him very unfavorably. Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating is at a 71%-29% margin.
Going off their disdain for Donald Trump, Latino voters have seen an increasing amount of hostility from the GOP toward their community. According to the same Latino Decisions poll, 31% of Arizona likely Latino voters view the Republican Party as sometimes hostile to Latinos, and 45% think the party doesn’t care too much about Latinos. Only 19% believe the GOP truly cares about the Latino community.
Trump’s Alienating Rhetoric Could Soon Turn A Traditionally Red Arizona Blue
In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney won the state of Arizona by 10 points. At the time this report was written, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, Donald Trump is up by 2.2 percentage points in a four-way race, a stark contrast when compared to Romney’s final performance in 2012 and an indication that Arizona will be a battleground state this fall.
Additionally, this means that the Latino voting bloc can have dire consequences for Trump and other Republicans down the ticket come this November. As of August 2016, according to a Latino Decisions poll, Hillary Clinton holds a 70-18% margin over Donald Trump (President Obama won the Latino vote in Arizona by a 74-25% margin). A Univision poll conducted this month backs up these numbers of support, with Latino voters in Arizona backing Hillary Clinton by a 68%-18% margin.
Moreover, when Latino voters in Arizona were asked who inspired the most confidence in improving the lives of those within the Latino community, an overwhelming majority said Hillary Clinton. According to the Univision poll previously mentioned, she leads by a 64-16% margin over Donald Trump.
According to the previously mentioned Latino Decisions poll, 81% of respondents say they are absolutely certain they will vote in the general election, with an additional 10% saying they will probably vote. When measuring enthusiasm among Latinos in the same poll, 50% say that they are more enthusiastic than four years ago (30% say they were more excited four years ago). When asked why, 49% say it’s to stop Donald Trump from being elected, while 27% say it’s to support Hillary Clinton. It’s therefore evident that Trump’s rhetoric is a driving factor mobilizing Latino voters.
However, there are some warning signs for campaigns on both sides of the aisle. According to the Latino Decisions poll, only 40% of respondents said that they had been contacted in the past few months by a campaign, party, or organization encouraging them to vote or register to vote. 58% said that they had NOT been contacted. This is a clear message to all campaigns on all levels – presidential, Senate, or Congressional – to increase outreach in the final stretch before Election Day on November 8th.
There has been a concerted effort to register Latino voters in Arizona. This year, Mi Familia Vota set a goal of registering 75,000 new Latino voters – and has already met that target. Now, they’re hoping to reach 100,000 before the state’s October 10th deadline
John McCain’s Embrace of Trump Spells Possible Troubles In Re-Election Bid
Despite Trump’s comments that Senator John McCain is “not a war hero” for being captured as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, Senator McCain has gone on to endorse Trump for the presidency. This could play out badly for the senior Senator from Arizona, who previously received 40% of the Latino vote in his Senate re-election bid in 2010. According to a Latino Decisions poll conducted in August 2016, McCain receives only 31% of support among Latinos, while his opponent, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, receives 57% of support.
According to the same Latino Decisions poll, when asked whether Senator McCain’s support of Donald Trump would make them more or less likely to support him in November, 71% of respondents say they are less likely to support him. Only 15% say his support for Trump makes it more likely that they will vote for him.
A couple weeks ago, it was reported by The Washington Post that Sen. McCain’s campaign website portrayed his stances on immigration differently between his English and Spanish language pages. In English, he touts his legislative record on homeland security, promises to reform the U.S. Border Patrol, and to pass laws that “would address the crisis of unaccompanied children coming across Arizona’s border with Mexico.”
In Spanish, there is no reference to border security or addressing the “crisis” of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, McCain’s Spanish page promotes his support for humane and sensible immigration reform as well as his work on the Gang of Eight bill that failed to pass both chambers of Congress. The Latino community deserves to know what his real stance on immigration is, and what he will do to benefit his constituents as well as the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already here in this country.
Senator McCain’s opponent, Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, has been a staunch supporter of immigration reform, and she has set herself apart from her opponent with her support of the DACA and DAPA programs. According to the same Latino Decisions poll, 65% of respondents in a Latino Decisions poll said that her positions make them more likely to vote for her in November, while McCain’s dissent on the DACA and DAPA programs make 64% of respondents less likely to support him. This only makes sense when 85% of total respondents in Arizona agree with the policy of DAPA, which halts the deportations of immigrants who have been in the United States for five years or more and whose children are American citizens. This week, Congresswoman Kirkpatrick released a Spanish language ad that features members of the Latino community expressing their disappointment in Sen. McCain’s doublespeak on immigration and his support for Donald Trump.
Although recent polls have not shown a tight race, Senator McCain should not take his lead for granted. With decreased support among Latinos from his previous re-election bid, high unfavorables for the Republican Party, and with 81% of Arizona Latinos saying they are absolutely certain that they will vote, anything is possible. For comparison, Latino turnout nationwide in 2012 was only at 48%.
The Latino Vote in Colorado
The Latino Vote Will Determine The Outcome of the Election in Colorado
Colorado is a presidential election swing state. Colorado voters voted for the respective Republican presidential candidates in 2000 and 2004, but President Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012. Part of the reason: the growth of the Latino electorate, which has favored Democrats by substantial margins in recent years.
Latinos in Colorado Pull Away from GOP
Latino support for the Republican Party in national elections in Colorado grew significantly between 1996 and 2008, peaking at 38%. In 2012, only 23% of Latinos voted for the GOP candidate.
In a poll of Latinos conducted by Latino Decisions on the eve of the 2014 midterm elections in Colorado, 42% said that Republicans “don’t care too much” about the Latino Community, and another 30% said that Republicans were “sometimes hostile” toward Latinos. Nearly half (45%) have pretty much written off the Republican Party, saying that the party “has now become so anti-immigrant, and anti-Latino that it would be hard for me to consider supporting them.”
Another Latino Decisions poll in Colorado in August of 2016 showed Colorado Latinos continue to hold similar opinions towards the Republican party with 47% saying that Republicans “don’t care too much” about the Latino Community, and another 36% saying that Republicans were “sometimes hostile” toward Latinos.
It is not hard to understand why.
GOP Hostility Towards Immigration Fuels Flight from GOP
In the 2014 Latino Decisions election eve poll, 85% of respondents stated that immigration reform was at least “somewhat important” in driving their decision to vote and their choice of candidate, with 30% saying it was the most important issue. In the months leading up to the poll conducted by Latino Decisions, Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives refused to take up a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed in the Senate in 2013. In addition to refusing to bring a bill to a vote, Congressional Republicans continued their hostility toward immigrants and immigration by attacking President Obama for providing temporary relief from deportation to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and for Obama’s deprioritization of the deportation of non-criminal undocumented immigrants.
Since then, top contenders during the Republican primary only increased their use of harsh rhetoric towards immigrants and immigration. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, began his campaign calling Mexicans rapists and murderers.
Such rhetoric will not endear Republicans to Colorado’s Latino voters — nearly half (46%) of Colorado’s immigrants are Mexican and, in a Latino Decisions poll conducted in August 2016, 59% of Colorado’s Latinos say they personally know an undocumented immigrant. Furthermore, 2014 poll from Latino Decisions, 62% of Latinos said that “if Republicans block President Obama from taking any action on immigration,” it would make them feel less enthusiastic about Republicans.
The August 2016 Latino Decisions poll shows the effects of Trump’s rhetoric on his favorability amongst Colorado Latinos. 81% of Latinos in Colorado have an unfavorable view of Trump with 74% reporting they view him “very unfavorably.” This is further confirmed by a Univision poll conducted this month, which says that 81% of Latino voters in Colorado have an unfavorable view of Trump with 69% reporting they view him “very unfavorably.”
In the Latino Decisions poll, only 17% of Colorado Latinos said they would vote for Trump if the election were held that day, compared to 72% who said they’d vote for Clinton. Univision’s poll of Colorado Latinos have Trump’s support at 17%, compared to 62% who said they would support Clinton.
In the same Latino Decisions poll, 76% of respondents said that Donald Trump has made the Republican party more hostile to Latinos, with only 7% saying it has become more welcoming to Latinos.
Finally, when asked by Univision who Latino voters had the most confidence in when it comes to making their lives better, Hillary Clinton holds a wide margin over Donald Trump by a margin of 65%-13%. This means that Clinton’s pro-immigrant message and Trump’s anti-immigrant crusade clearly have set a consistent mood across a vast majority of Latino voters and could prove to have dire consequences at the polls.
State GOP Candidates Echoed Hostility at the Top
On June 28, 2016, Colorado Republican voters nominated El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn as their candidate to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet. During the campaign, Glenn stated, “I don’t know what people don’t understand about illegal. We need to make sure that we terminate those strings that encourage people to violate the rule of law.”
Understandably, Latino voters have an unfavorable view of Glenn: according to the Latino Decisions August 2016 poll, 45% of Colorado Latinos hold an unfavorable view of Glenn, with 23% saying their view is very unfavorable. Only 20% hold a favorable view of the Republican challenger.
Darryl Glenn’s embrace of Donald Trump spells trouble for any hope Glenn had of expanding his outreach to Latinos. Asked how Glenn’s support for Trump would translate to their support for the Republican challenger, 74% of respondents said they were less likely to vote for him. Only 14% say they are more likely to support him because of his endorsement.
In the Latino Decisions conducted in August 2016, 72% of respondents said they will be voting for Democrat Sen. Michael Bennet, with only 17% saying they plan on voting for Republican nominee Daryl Glenn. Another poll conducted by Univision in September of this year has Bennet leading Glenn among Latino voters, 65%-19%.
Sen. Cory Gardner Sides with Anti-immigrant Republicans
In 2015 Senator Cory Gardner voted to invoke cloture on a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that contained anti-immigrant amendments that would have dismantled President Obama’s executive actions on DAPA and expanded DACA. In 2013, Gardner opposed a state law in Colorado that would have granted in-state tuition to immigrant youth.
Mike Coffman’s Anti-Immigrant Record is Clear
When it comes to immigration reform, Mike Coffman always finds a way to say “no.” In a Spanish ad, Coffman says he doesn’t care for Donald Trump and will stand up to him if elected president. However, when it comes to standing up for Latino communities, he falls short. He voted against the DREAM Act and for the Speaker’s amicus brief advocating for the Supreme Court to rule against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
Unfortunately for Coffman, it’s going to take more than a few words in Spanish to win over Latino voters when you represent the party of Trump.
For instance, Mike Coffman has consistently and strongly opposed DACA and DAPA going so far as to calling those actions “unconstitutional.”
And rather than standing up to Donald Trump and defending his constituents against Trump’s racist rhetoric, Coffman is twisting himself into contortions to gain the support of immigrant voters in his district while pandering to Trump supporters motivated by fear and anger.
For example, over the course of 24 hours this summer, Coffman’s campaign ran ads distancing himself from Trump, while simultaneously refusing to rule out an eventual Trump endorsement.
Sen. Michael Bennet Immigration Stance Aligns with Public Opinion on Immigration Reform
Democratic Senator Michael Bennet was a part of the Senate “Gang of Eight” group, which authored the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed in the Senate but eventually died in the House. Among other pro-immigrant provisions, the bill provided a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, provided they met certain conditions.
In regards to immigration, Senator Bennet is squarely aligned with Colorado public opinion. In a 2014 poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, 61% of Coloradans said they favored immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, provided immigrants meet certain conditions.
An additional 19% of Coloradans favor allowing undocumented immigrants to become permanent legal residents, but not citizens. Among likely Latino voters in Colorado, according to an August 2016 poll conducted by Latino Decisions, 82% support the DAPA program that President Obama executively ordered to halt the deportation of the children of undocumented immigrants. Only 15% are opposed to the program.
Why the Latino Vote Matters in Colorado
While Latino voters nationwide turnout in lower percentages than white voters, in Colorado, the state is divided. In 2012, President Obama won the state by just 137,000 votes and 263,000 out of 351,000 Latino voters voted for the President.
The relentless pace of demographic change will increase the number of voters who are Latino in 2016 and beyond. For instance, in Colorado alone, since 2012, 11,000 Latino immigrants are estimated to have become citizens and an estimated 67,000 young Latino citizens will have turned 18, and thus will be eligible to vote. If only half of these new eligible voters turn out to vote (as they did in 2012, according to Census figures) and 75% of these votes go to the Democratic candidate, that is an additional 30,000 votes. Between 2012 and 2020, there will be an estimated 168,606 additional eligible Latino voters.
The combined number of potential new Latino voters through aging and/or naturalization (78,000) is dwarfed by the number of Latino eligible voters who are not yet registered. in 2012, that number was 213,000, a number larger than the population of all but three of Colorado’s cities.
In the Last Election and So Far In This Election, Many Latino Voters Were Never Contacted
As the numbers above show, successful voter registration drives could significantly add to the pool of Latino voters in 2016, but the opportunity must not be squandered. On the eve of the 2014 election, only 41% of Latino voters in Colorado said the Democratic Party was doing a good job of reaching out to Latino voters while only 15% of Latino voters said the same for the Republican Party.
If Colorado continues to be a hotly contested swing state, and Republican candidates continue their hostility toward immigrants and immigration, Democrats stand to gain and maintain an overwhelming advantage among Latino voters. A greater effort at targeting these voters could solidify a Democratic advantage and lessen the changes the state swings red anytime soon.
Latino Decisions polling conducted in August 2016, 52% of respondents in Colorado said that in the past few months, they have NOT been contacted by a campaign, political party, or community organization asking them to vote or register to vote. As we have seen in the past, turnout is extremely critical to getting the right candidates elected, and these numbers indicate that campaigns and parties still have lots of work to do during the final stretch of the campaign.
The Latino Vote in Florida
Republicans and the Latino Vote in Florida
Traditionally, Republicans have performed well with Latinos in Florida, due in large part to the Cuban vote. In the last 15 years, however, two trends have helped Democrats gain among Florida’s Latinos. Cubans have become more diverse (in 2014, 44% of Cubans in the U.S. were native-born) and U.S. born Cubans are not as focused on Cold-War politics. (Younger Cubans—aged 18 to 49—now identify with or lean to the Democratic Party by 56% compared to 23% who identify with or lean to the Republican party).
In Florida, these shifts in Cuban affiliation can be seen by analyzing the results of the presidential elections in the last 15 years. In 2000, George W. Bush won 81% of the Cuban vote in Florida. In 2012, President Obama picked up 49% of the Cuban vote compared to the 47% who went for Romney.
Additionally, the non-Cuban population is growing. In 2014, Cubans comprised less than a third—29.5% —of the Latino population in Florida. The next three largest groups—Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Colombians—together comprise 42%. In 2012, 57% of the 66% of Latinos who voted for Obama were non-Cuban versus 34% for Romney.
Latinos are Driving Democratic Registration in Florida
Following the rise of Donald Trump, there are indications that immigrants in Florida are applying for citizenship and registering to vote in greater numbers in recent months. Mexicans and other Latinos, in particular, want to be able to vote against him in November. According to data from the University of Southern California Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, there were more than 400,000 Latino immigrants eligible to naturalize in Florida as of March 2016.
The growth of the non-Cuban population and the tendency for younger Cubans to identify with Democrats has also boosted the number of registered Democrats in the state. Between 2006 and 2016, Latinos accounted for 88% of the growth in the number of registered Democrats in Florida, and now registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the state among Latino voters.
In 2016, Latinos will comprise more than 18% of the Florida electorate, ranking the state fifth in the nation in percentage of Latino voters. The projected number of Latinos turning 18 or becoming citizens between 2012 and 2016—411,000—dwarfs Obama’s margin of victory in 2012 of 74,000.
The Small but Rapidly Growing Asian Electorate in Florida
Asians, another group with a significant recent immigration history, have also been trending Democrat. In 2012, 68% of Asian Americans voted for Obama, versus 31% for Romney. In Florida, the Asian American electorate is small, but the Asian vote for Obama was still estimated to be larger than his thin margin of victory in Florida in 2012– and this population is growing. A dozen metropolitan areas in Florida are considered “new Asian destinations” and some—including Cape Coral, Lakeland, Bradenton, and Orlando—saw more than 100% Asian population increases between the 2000 and 2010 censuses. In Florida between 2012 and 2016, 36,000 Asians were projected to become citizens and another 26,000 Asian citizens turned 18. On top of that, there were 186,000 unregistered eligible Asian voters in Florida in 2012.
Thresholds Needed by the GOP in 2016
Republicans will have to outperform their 2012 Florida voter turnout. If all racial groups maintain the same voting preferences as 2012, the GOP would only get to 48.8% of the vote in Florida. This is due largely to the fact that white voters will comprise a lower percentage of the electorate in 2016. Based on 2012 preferences, some estimate that the GOP will need a whopping 70% of the white male vote in 2016. Alternatively, the GOP will need more than 45% of the Latino vote, compared to the 39% they obtained in 2016.
As these thresholds show, the steady trend toward Democratic affiliation among Latino voters in Florida presents a great challenge to the GOP. A challenge made even greater by the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.
Florida Republicans Digging a Deeper Hole with Latino Voters
In a Washington Post-Univision poll of Latino voters, 73% of Latino voters said they had heard “a lot” about Trump’s views on immigrants coming to the United States from Mexico and other countries. (An additional 9% said they had heard some). Most, 74% , find his views offensive.
As a result, most Latino votes, according to a Univision poll conducted this month, have a “very unfavorable” view of Trump (62%) or a “somewhat unfavorable” view of him (6%). In a poll of Florida Latinos conducted by Latino Decisions in August of 2016, in a head-to-head between Trump and Clinton, 62% leaned toward Clinton while 27% leaned toward Trump. The same Univision poll from this month confirms this wide margin among Florida Latino voters, with 53% supporting Clinton, and 29% supporting Trump.
In the previously mentioned Latino Decisions poll, Latino voters were asked if the confirmation of Donald Trump as their nominee makes the Republican Party more or less hostile towards the Latino community. Among those in Florida, 61% said it made the GOP more hostile, 16% said it has no effect, and 12% said it makes the party more welcoming. In the same poll, 49% of Florida Latinos said Trump’s views on immigration made them less likely to vote Republican in November while 39% said Clinton’s views on immigration made them more likely to vote Democrat in November.
The GOP’s problems with Latinos, however, go beyond Donald Trump. When asked who they trusted more to improve the lives of Hispanics, voters trust Democrats over Republicans by a more than 3 to 1 margin (62% vs. 18%). Additionally, in the Latino Decisions poll from August, among Latino voters, 29% of respondents said the Republican Party is sometimes hostile to Latinos, and 32% said the Republican Party does not care too much about Latinos.
Finally, according to the Univision poll, when asked who they had the most confidence in to improve the lives of Latinos, 56% of respondents said Hillary Clinton inspires the greatest confidence to improving their lives, while 26% say it’s Donald Trump. This means that Clinton’s pro-immigrant message and Trump’s anti-immigrant crusade clearly have set a consistent mood across a vast majority of Latino voters and could prove to have dire consequences at the polls.
Senate GOP Candidate Views Align with Trump
When Marco Rubio announced his presidential campaign, he stated that he intended on giving up his Senate seat, no matter the result of the primary. However, after failing to secure the nomination, including losing by a 2-1 margin in his home state of Florida, Rubio re-entered the Senate GOP primary. All of the other GOP contenders, except Trump acolyte, Carlos Beruff, immediately dropped out of the race.
Rubio’s flip-flop on his Senate career is both audacious and reminiscent of his contortions on immigration. After the “Gang of Eight” bill passed in the Senate, Rubio began walking back his support. Rubio not only turned his back on his lone legislative accomplishment in the Senate, but he also after the “Gang of Eight” bill passed in the Senate, Rubio began walking back his support.
Rubio not only turned his back on his lone legislative accomplishment in the Senate, but he also promised to end the DACA program for DREAMers on day one of his presidency (flip-flopping from an earlier stance), and championed a series of enforcement-first policies that look an awful lot like Romney’s “self-deportation” plan. Further, Rubio outlined a “step-by-step” immigration approach that, upon inspection, is a political and rhetorical sales job rather than a policy proposal to take seriously.
In the face of the existential danger to Florida’s Latino and immigrant communities that Donald Trump represents – and despite stating that Trump could not be trusted with the nuclear codes – Rubio nonetheless pledged to support Trump for president. In a Latino Decisions poll conducted in August 2016, 58% of respondents said that if they knew Sen. Rubio was supporting Trump, they were less likely to support Rubio in his re-election bid. Only 23% said they were more likely to vote for him.
It is clear that the man Time Magazine once anointed as “The Republican Savior” has no convictions that run deeper than his own drive for political power.
In the aforementioned August Latino Decisions poll, the race between Rubio and Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy is tight heading into the final stretch among Latino voters 47% of respondents said they will vote for Murphy, with 43% saying they will support Rubio.
As mentioned before, the Latino community is a growing population in Florida and is thus becoming a more primary demographic of the electorate. As of August 2016, according to the same Latino Decisions poll, 51% of respondents said that they had NOT been contacted by a campaign, party, or community organization telling to vote or register to vote.
Patrick Murphy’s Positions Align with the Public Support for Immigration Reform
Meanwhile, the Democratic candidate, Representative Patrick Murphy, is a supporter of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. In a statement following the passage of the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill in the 113th Congress, Murphy, representing the 18th Congressional District, said that he was “pleased to see that the Senate’s immigration reform plan included a reasonable pathway to citizenship.”
Murphy is an original co-sponsor of H.R. 15, a comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced by House Democrats when Republican leaders refused to consider the Senate-passed bill. In the August 2016 Latino Decisions poll, 67% of respondents said that Murphy’s positions on immigration make them more likely to vote for him in the general election.
The Democratic candidates are more aligned with Florida voters, 77% believe that undocumented immigrants should be provided with citizenship or legal residence short of citizenship if they meet certain requirements. Among likely Latino voters in Florida, 82% say they support the DAPA program that was put into place by President Obama, while only 15% say they do not support the program. In a February 2016 Washington Post/ Univision survey of Florida Latino voters, 82% said they would like to see the next president be someone who supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Among the issues Latinos consider to be the most important in deciding who to vote for, immigration ranked second in that Washington Post voter survey.
With their candidates for the Senate all taking a hard line on immigration, and with a presidential nominee who has offensive immigration views, Republicans in Florida seem to have all but ceded the Latino vote to Democrats. In the same Latino Decisions poll, 56% of respondents say that Rubio’s positions on immigration mean that they are less likely to vote for him.
The Latino Vote in Nevada
GOP Window of Opportunity to Attract Latinos in Nevada Rapidly Closing
Nevada’s Latino population has been rising steadily in the last two decades. Since 1980, the Latino share of the population has tripled, reaching 26% of Nevada’s population in 2012. Along with that increase in total population comes growth in the Latino electorate, and the growing necessity for political parties to address the needs of this community. Since President Obama won 76% of the Nevada Latino vote in 2008, Latinos have been a key factor in Democratic victories for national offices across the state. And yet, instead of courting Latino voters, Republicans have driven them away with anti-immigrant policy proposals.
In Response To Republican Hostility, Latinos in Nevada Favor of Democrats
In 2008, while Obama pledged to make immigration reform a priority, his opponent, John McCain backed away from a reform bill he co-authored and later felt the repercussions at the polls.
In 2010, during the anti-incumbent fervor that brought big gains for extremely conservative Republican candidates across the country, Nevada’s Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader at the time, appeared to be on the road to defeat. His opponent, Sharron Angle, ran an anti-immigrant campaign famously featuring an ad, “The Wave,” which included menacing-looking Latinos while a narrator discussed the “waves of illegal aliens streaming across our border, joining violent gangs, forcing families to live in fear.” Latinos responded by turning out with Senator Reid picking up 90% of their vote versus Angle’s 8% . The Latino turnout in 2010 resulted in a record 16% of the total vote and Reid was re-elected.
In 2012, Obama had recently used his executive authority to enact Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), to protect a class of undocumented immigrants—those who had been brought to the country illegally by their parents—from deportation. Romney’s position on immigration reform was that undocumented immigrants should “self-deport.”
A Latino Decisions election eve poll of Nevada Latinos found that DACA made 61% of Nevada’s Latinos “more enthusiastic” about supporting President Obama, while Romney’s self-deportation policy made 61% “less enthusiastic” about supporting him. In the end, Obama won 87% of the Nevada Latino electorate vs. 15% for Romney, and Latinos comprised 14.7% of the electorate.
In an August 2016 poll conducted by Latino Decisions, 61% of respondents say they will support Democratic candidate Catherine Cortez Masto, while 22% say they will support Republican candidate Joe Heck. These numbers are also backed up by a Univision poll conducted this month, which shows Cortez Masto leading Heck by a 58%-24% margin.
Republican Immigration Positions in 2016 May Trigger Another Latino Landslide in Nevada
As another presidential election approaches, Republicans have worsened their rhetoric on immigration. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee and the face of the GOP, famously called Mexicans rapists in his campaign announcement speech. His rhetoric has not improved since.
A Univision poll conducted of Latino voters in July 2016 found that 73% think Trump is a racist and 77% hold an unfavorable view of him. 53% of poll respondents said that, because of Trump, they would not consider voting for a Republican candidate in the future. In a Univision poll conducted in September, a head-to-head between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has Clinton ahead by a 68%-19% margin.
In an August 2016 poll conducted by Latino Decisions of likely Latino voters in Nevada, 78% of respondents said they had an unfavorable view of Trump, with 71% saying their opinion of him was very unfavorable. Univision’s September poll has Trump’s unfavorability numbers among Latino voters in Nevada at 79%, with 71% saying their opinion of him was very unfavorable. Additionally, when asked to rate Trump on a scale of 1 to 10, 73% of respondents rated him a 1, the most anti-immigrant. When asked if the election were that day who they would vote for in a head-to-head between Clinton and Trump, Clinton led Trump 70% to 14%, further confirming the Univision numbers previously mentioned. This means that Clinton’s pro-immigrant message and Trump’s anti-immigrant crusade clearly have set a consistent mood across a vast majority of Latino voters and could prove to have dire consequences at the polls.
Even worse for Republicans, in the aforementioned August 2016 Latino Decisions poll, 73% of Nevada Latino respondents said that Trump’s views on immigrants or immigration made them less likely to vote Republican. Further, 30% said the Republican Party is sometimes hostile towards Latinos and 47% said the Republican Party does not care too much about Latinos. In the same Latino Decisions poll, 69% of Latinos said with Donald Trump as their nominee, the Republican Party has gotten more hostile to Latinos.
Lastly, when asked who inspires the most confidence in improving the lives of the Latino community, voters say it’s Clinton by a 68%-15% margin, according to the aforementioned Univision poll conducted this month. This means that Clinton’s pro-immigrant rhetoric and Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric clearly have set a consistent mood across a vast majority of Latino voters and could prove to have dire consequences at the polls.
Senator Heck Tries to Appeal to Latinos and the Alt-Right
With Senator Reid retiring, Representative Joe Heck, currently representing Nevada’s Third Congressional District, and former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto are currently competing for the seat.
On his congressional website, Heck says that he is “open to considering proposals that address earned citizenship.” When he’s had a chance to act, however, he either failed to support or oppose comprehensive immigration reform proposals.
In June 2013, Representative Heck voted with his Republican colleagues to defund the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—which has given thousands of DREAMers temporary protection from deportation and work authorization. Explaining his vote in an op-ed, Heck said that, while “young people brought here in an undocumented status need a chance to make a life for themselves,” his vote reflected his belief that “the appropriate method is through a transparent and public legislative process.”
However, in 2010 as a candidate for the House, Heck opposed legislation to provide a path to citizenship for this very same population of young people. After the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, and the Republican leadership in the House failed to take it up, Rep. Heck refused to endorse a bill sponsored by Democratic House members similar to the Senate bill.
With his positions in mind, 65% of Latino voters say that they are less likely to support Heck in the general election, while only 18% say that his positions make them more likely to vote for him, according to the August 2016 Latino Decisions poll. In regards to his opponent’s positions, 71% say they are more likely to vote for Cortez Masto, while only 15% say her pro-immigrant positions make them less likely to vote for her, according to the same Latino Decisions poll.
In 2016, Republicans Face a Larger Latino Electorate in Nevada
In 2012, Latinos were 14.7% of all voters in Nevada, according to Latino Decisions. In 2016, Center for American Progress projects that Latinos will comprise more than 21% of the electorate. The Partnership for a New American Economy estimates that between 2012 and 2016, more than 61,000 Nevadan Latino citizens will have turned 18 or Latino immigrants who will have acquired citizenship and thus be eligible to vote. Since 2008, the number of Latino eligible voters in Nevada has increased from 228,000 to a projected 388,000 in 2016, according to The Partnership for a New American Economy. On top of that, there were an estimated 121,000 unregistered Latino citizens in 2012, all of whom could potentially be added to the voter rolls.
If other demographic groups vote in the same percentage as they did in 2012 (according to exit polls from The Partnership for a New American Economy), the Republicans will need at least 51.1% of the Latino vote to gain more than 50% of the overall vote in Nevada. Therefore, Donald Trump will need to improve by 34% from Romney’s 27% Latino support, which seems very unlikely, given the Republican nominee is a candidate who is viewed “very unfavorably” by 67% of Latinos nationwide, and by 71% of Latinos in Nevada.
Young Latinos Trend Democratic in Greater Numbers
If young Latinos continue to lean Democratic to the extent they have recently, there are a lot of potential Nevada Democrats in the pipeline—48% of Nevada’s Latinos were aged 24 and younger in 2014, and 86% of them are native-born, according to The Partnership for a New American Economy.
The authors of a 2013 Brooking’s Mountain West report on Nevada’s Latino electorate sum up the urgency of the GOP problem with Nevada’s Latinos:
“[A]s Nevada’s demography continues to shift and Latino voters, particularly the immense under-thirty heavily Democratic cohort, become more engaged in politics, the GOP’s window of opportunity, and by extension its ability to compete in Nevada, may be rapidly closing.”
The Latino Vote in North Carolina
The Latino population in North Carolina, as well as the number of eligible voters, is on par with the rest of the country. According to Pew Research, there are 248,000 eligible Latino voters in the state of North Carolina, which ranks 17th in the country. Although this may not seem encouraging at face value, the sheer number of eligible Latino voters can still swing the state one way. In 2012, Mitt Romney won North Carolina by a margin of 92,000 votes, one of the closest margins in the Electoral College map. Thus, Latinos as well as African-American and Asian-American voting blocs will make a difference in this year’s election.
North Carolina has one of the fastest growing Latino population in the entire United States. Between 2000-2010, the Latino population jumped 111% by a number of over 420,000. It has also been classified by a UCLA study as a “new destination” state, along with Virginia and Georgia, for immigrants. Thus, in the future, expect North Carolina to continue to be not only a swing state, but one with a more influential Latino electorate.
GOP Policies in North Carolina are Hostile to Immigrant Families
In October 2015, Governor Pat McCroy signed a bill into law that prohibits cities from enacting community policing policies for undocumented immigrants. The bill also forces any state or local government agency to only contract with employers who have checked the immigration status of all their workers.The bill prohibits law enforcement and other government officials from accepting forms of identification issued by foreign governments, usually the only form of ID these immigrants have.
Taking into account all policies that affect undocumented immigrants, a UCLA study ranks North Carolina among the bottom ten states when it comes to the well-being of undocumented immigrants and how they may be affected by the state’s policies. Some of these policies include the prohibition of undocumented immigrants receiving benefits from social programs, such as food stamps.
These issues will be hitting close to home for most Latinos voting in this year’s election. According to a Latino Decisions poll conducted in August 2016, when asked whether they knew a family, friend, or co-worker who is currently an undocumented immigrant, 62% of respondents said they did. These voters will be voting to ensure that a Trump administration does not have hold the fate of the daily lives of hardworking families, friends, and co-workers. To put it plainly, it’s personal.
In their opinion, Latinos in North Carolina don’t regard the Republican Party very highly. According to the same Latino Decisions poll, 47% of respondents said that the GOP doesn’t care too much about Latinos; 30% of respondents said that the GOP is sometimes hostile to Latinos. Only 16% felt that the GOP truly cared about the Latino community.
Republicans Should Fear Losing the Tar Heel State
Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric throughout the campaign has completely alienated numerous minority groups. With a growing Latino population, North Carolina has become one of the most vulnerable states this election cycle for the GOP. At the time this report was written, according to the RealClearPolitics average, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are within less than a percentage point of each other (Clinton leads by 0.6 percentage points). Ever since Mitt Romney won North Carolina in 2012, the state has consistently elected Republicans at the state and national level. Governor McCrory, as well as both of their Senators are Republicans, while ten out of the thirteen Congressional delegates are Republican.
Among North Carolina likely Latino voters, according to an August 2016 poll conducted by Latino Decisions, a whopping 81% have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, while only 15% see him favorably. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has a favorable opinion from 65% of Latino voters, while she has an unfavorable rating among 29%.
Latino voters’ disdain for Trump parallels a resistance to support him for the presidency. He is losing to Clinton by a margin of 73%-14% among likely Latino voters. If Trump continues his anti-immigrant rhetoric during the campaign’s final stretch into November, it would not be a surprise to see another close margin like four years ago only this time going the other way. By comparison, according to Pew Research exit polls, President Obama won the North Carolina Latino vote by a margin of 68%-31% over Mitt Romney. Trump is not even at half of what he needs with the Latino vote if he wishes to match his performance with Romney, assuming the white voter margins stay the same (Romney won the NC white vote 68%-31%).
The Trump effect continues to impact the way the Latino community views the GOP with Trump as their nominee. According to the same Latino Decisions poll, when asked whether Trump has made the GOP more hostile or welcoming to Latinos, 76% of respondents said that he has made the party more hostile, while only 4% say he has made it more welcoming. If the GOP wishes to achieve its attempted outreach towards non-white voters, not only in North Carolina but across the country, then nominating Trump has proven to be a huge mistake.
When asked whether they believe it is more important to vote this year as opposed to four years ago, 80% of likely Latino voters in North Carolina agree that it is more important this year, according to the aforementioned Latino Decisions poll. When asked why they felt it was more important to vote in this year’s elections, 61% of those respondents said it was to stop Donald Trump from being elected President. The main motivation behind Latino voters being active in this year’s elections are because of the hateful rhetoric Trump has repeatedly spewed since day one of his campaign. Since 62% of Latino voters in North Carolina know someone who is an undocumented immigrant, this will serve as an extra incentive to get out to the polls on November 8th.
Sen. Richard Burr on the List of Vulnerable Senate Republicans
Throughout his political career as an incumbent, Sen. Richard Burr has never faced a serious challenge on the campaign trail. As a Congressman, from 1994-2002, none of his opponents received more than 35% of the vote or came within 14 points of victory. When he ran for re-election to the Senate in 2010, he won by a margin of 12 percentage points. Seeking a third term in the Senate, Sen. Burr were most likely expecting a race just as non-competitive as the others.
This year, Sen. Burr is competing against former State Representative Deborah Ross. Currently, Sen. Burr leads Ross by 3.3 percentage points, indicating that the race will most certainly be the closest of his time as an incumbent. Among likely Latino voters, according to an August 2016 Latino Decisions poll, Ross leads 58%-24%. It doesn’t help when the man who is topping his party’s presidential ticket has an 81% unfavorability rating among likely Latino voters. It also doesn’t help when Sen. Burr himself has endorsed Donald Trump. When asked whether Sen. Burr’s support of the Republican nominee will make them more or less likely to vote for him, 74% of respondents said that they were less likely to support Sen. Burr. Only 13% said that they were more likely to support him.
When it comes to specific immigration issues like DACA/DAPA and overall immigration reform, 86% of respondents say that they agree with the programs, while only 10% disagree, according to a Latino Decisions poll conducted in August 2016. Sen. Burr is opposed to these programs, and 75% of respondents in the same poll said that his opposition makes them less likely to support him, while only 14% say his opposition makes them more likely to vote for him.
However, there is a caveat to all this disagreement with Sen. Burr’s positions on immigration. According to the same Latino Decisions poll, when asked if they knew his position regarding President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, 71% of respondents said they didn’t know. 76% didn’t know Deborah Ross’ position on President Obama’s executive actions. When voters don’t know the positions of candidates two months before Election Day, it’s hard for them to have a reason one way or the other, especially when immigration is the most important issue among the Latino community (48% among likely Latino voters in NC). If Ross wishes to reach out to the Latino community for help to pull off the upset, she must make her position on immigration known in order to gain the support that the Latino community is willing to give.
Lastly, the outreach to the Latino community in North Carolina has been abysmal. 67% of respondents said that, over the past months, they have NOT been contacted by a campaign, party, or organization asking them to vote or register to vote. In these last few weeks of the campaign season, campaigns of all kinds have a huge opportunity to tap into a growing base that has the potential to tip the state one way or the other. Hopefully, we see this occur with the Latino community considering that immigration has been a campaign cornerstone on both sides of the aisle.
The Latino Vote in Ohio
Trump Could Help Turn Out Multi-Racial Coalition in Ohio to Vote Against Hate
With Donald Trump spewing blatantly racist rhetoric and targeting many communities of color, a multi-racial coalition is emerging in Ohio to stand up against these attacks. The role of African American, Latino, and APIA voters in Ohio has expanded over the last few election cycles and will only continue to grow. By 2060, people of color will make up at least 30.9% of eligible voters in Ohio, according to Center for American Progress.
African-American voters accounted for Obama’s margin of victory in Ohio in 2012, and, according to NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls, Donald Trump is polling at 0% with black voters in Ohio.
In total numbers, Ohio’s Latino eligible voter population was 199,000 in 2014. President Obama won the state by just 166,000 votes in 2012. Between 2000 and 2014, Ohio’s Latino population grew more than 83 percent, compared to the state’s overall growth of 2 percent.
Asian Americans, who voted for Obama in similar percentages as Latinos in 2012, will make up another 127,000 eligible Ohio voters in 2016. Though Asian Americans are a small part of the overall electorate (1.3%), the population is growing much faster than the population of Ohio as a whole. Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian American population grew 49%, compared to 1.6% growth in the overall population, and between 2008 and 2012, the number of Asian American voters grew 18.6% compared to 1.5% growth in Ohio’s overall eligible voting population.
The Latino Threshold in Ohio
Between 2000 and 2014, Ohio’s Latino population grew by more than 83%, compared to the state’s overall population growth of 2%. Between 2008 and 2012, the Latino electorate grew 36%, while the white voter electorate shrunk by 1.5%. Between 2012 and 2016, there were projected to be 28,000 newly-eligible Latino voters in Ohio—immigrants becoming citizens and the native born turning 18.
Donald Trump famously alienated Latinos from the beginning of his campaign, saying that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” In the first survey of Latino public opinion after that speech, conducted by Univision, 71% of Latinos had an unfavorable view of Trump.
According to an August poll from Latino Decisions, in a matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, only 22% of Latinos said they would vote for Trump and 70% have an unfavorable view of the Republican nominee.
The damage of Donald Trump’s rhetoric goes far beyond the presidential race. In the same Latino Decisions survey, 72% of Latinos said they believed the Republican Party has become increasingly hostile to Latinos with Donald Trump as their nominee. This will likely have down-ticket consequences: 52% of respondents said they will vote Democrat in Congressional elections, and 50% said they will vote for the Democratic candidate for Senate (versus 32% who said they will vote Republican).
Latino Decisions calculated that the GOP would need to win approximately 43% of the Latino vote in Ohio to win a majority here in 2016. However, Trump is on track to underperform even Mitt Romney’s historically low 23% of the Latino vote.
In addition to the percentage of Latinos supporting Clinton over Trump, the other factor behind Latino voters’ impact this election is turnout. There are some early warning signs for the GOP. In the August Latino Decisions poll, 43% said they are more enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming election than they had been in 2012 (36% said they were more enthusiastic back then). In Ohio and elsewhere, stopping Trump has even become motivation for immigrants to apply for citizenship.
The Ohio Senate Race and the Trump Effect
Ohio GOP Senator Rob Portman is up for re-election in 2016. He was first elected in 2010, an off-year election. With Trump as the headliner at the top of the GOP ticket, there have been many reports that Republicans down-ballot—Senators, Congressmen, Governors, etc.—will attempt to distance themselves from Trump to preserve their seats.
In the case of Ohio’s GOP incumbent, Senator Portman is taking a different tactic. His mantra seems to be that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. After initially voicing concern about the candidate, Portman has since fallen in line and said that he would support the eventual nominee, Donald Trump.
According to an August 2016 Latino Decisions poll, 66% of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for Senator Portman if they knew he was supporting Donald Trump for President. Only 15% said they were more likely to vote for Portman if they learned he was supporting Trump.
Portman’s immigration positions, like Trump’s, focus on enforcement. In 2013, he opposed the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, complaining that the bill’s substantial enforcement provisions did not go far enough. He opposes the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program that has provided opportunities for thousands of young immigrants, brought to the U.S. as children, to complete their studies and gain employment in their field. When the President announced his latest executive actions on immigration in November 2014, proposing to protect the parents of U.S. citizen children, Portman again issued a statement of opposition.
His opponent, former Ohio Congressman and Governor Ted Strickland, supports the President’s executive actions on immigration and was critical of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s decision to join the lawsuit brought by the State of Texas against the President’s executive actions. In July 2016, Strickland joined immigrants in Lorain, Ohio for a “DAPA Dinner,” which joins elected officials with families to discuss how deferred action will impact them and their communities. Senator Portman declined to attend any such event.
According to a Latino Decisions poll conducted in August 2016, when asked whether Portman’s positions on immigration make them more or less likely to support him in November, 58% of respondents say they are less likely to support him. When it comes to Ted Strickland’s pro-immigrant stances, 54% say they are more likely to support him in November.
With just two months out, Latinos, Asian American, and African American voters could play a pivotal role in this race. According to the August Latino Decisions poll, 50% of Latino respondents say they are supporting Governor Ted Strickland, while 32% say they are supporting Senator Rob Portman for re-election. As previously mentioned, the non-white population in Ohio is growing year by year, meaning that those voters will hold more weight come this November.
However, despite the rapidly changing demographics and support for Democratic candidates, many Latinos in Ohio aren’t being contacted by political campaigns. Polling conducted as late as August of 2016 revealed that only 37% of Latinos in Ohio had been contacted by a campaign or community group and asked to vote.
GOP Policies in Ohio are Hostile to Undocumented Immigrants. Latinos Take It Personally.
The GOP’s hostility towards the immigrant community predates Trump’s candidacy.
Ohio does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses (except in the case of immigrants granted protection under the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The state does not give in-state tuition to undocumented resident students seeking to attend state colleges and universities.
Ohio’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, added the state to a lawsuit brought by the State of Texas against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Finally, according to a study by the University of California-Los Angeles, Ohio ranks last for support of the health and well-being of undocumented immigrants. The study ranks states according to public health and welfare services, higher education opportunities, labor and employment opportunities, access to driver’s licenses, and participation in Secure Communities.
While undocumented immigrants comprise less than a fifth of the immigrant population in Ohio, politicians’ stances on immigration can be influential to Latino, APIA, and pro-immigrant voters in general. In the Latino Decisions poll conducted in August 2016, 41% of Latino voters reported they had a friend, family member, or coworker who was undocumented. More than half said they would not consider a candidate who opposed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, even if they agreed with the candidate on other issues, according to a February Washington Post-Univision poll. Immigration is not just a policy for these voters; it’s personal.
In Ohio, Few Voters Support Mass Deportation of Undocumented Immigrants
According to Public Religion Research Institute, of Ohioans as a whole, 70% think undocumented immigrants should be allowed to remain in the U.S. — including 58% who say they should be allowed to become citizens if they meet certain requirements and another 12% who favor legal status without citizenship. Just 25% thought undocumented immigrants should be deported. 45% of Ohioans believe that newcomers from other countries strengthen American society, compared to 40% who believe that newcomers threaten traditional American customs and values. Across party lines, Ohioans support allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S.
In the Republican primary in March 2016, according to CNN exit polls, immigration ranked last among four issues as an issue of concern for voters. Only 7% of respondents said it was their top issue. A majority of Republican primary voters (57%) told pollsters that they thought “illegal immigrants working in the U.S.” should be offered legal status. Two in five (39%) preferred deportation. Only Trump and Cruz supporters favored deportation over legalization.
Nationally, Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, and the young voters of the Millennial and Gen-X generations are more tolerant of immigrants, and much more supportive of allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. The decreasing part of the electorate that is shrinking, an elderly, predominantly white population, is the least tolerant and voices most of the opposition to the idea of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay. Even within the GOP, there is a generational divide: younger voters are less supportive of the GOP’s hardline stance on immigration when compared to older Republicans.
These hardline stances on immigration will translate to less support from a growing demographic in Ohio. According to an August 2016 Latino Decisions poll, 42% of respondents say that the Republican Party doesn’t care too much about Latinos, and 27% say that the Republican Party is sometimes hostile to Latinos.
Ohio’s Latino and Asian American population represent a small fraction of Ohio voters today. The population is growing rapidly, however, and shares much in common with Ohio’s African American voters. If communities of color, feeling attacked, band together and turn out this election, they will be a force to be reckoned with.