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Coverage and Commentary of Recent Latino Polling Offers Lessons for Both Parties

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Recent polling of Latino voters, conducted by Latino Decisions and commissioned by America’s Voice, confirms that Donald Trump is deeply unpopular with Latino voters; and that the Republican Party’s brand image with Latinos is deeply damaged and getting worse, due in part to Trump’s rise but also because of the GOP’s immigration stance and tenor (include the Republican Party’s role in the politicized U.S. v TexasSupreme Court case).

The polling also offered a reminder for Democrats that maximizing the opportunity at hand with Latino voters will require leaning into the immigration issue and investing heavily in registration and turnout operations – it won’t happen on its own. For example, the Latino Decisions state-specific poll of Latino voters in Nevada found that compared to generic congressional candidates, potential GOP Senate nominee Rep. Joe Heck is over-performing and potential Democratic Senate nominee Catherine Cortez Masto is under-performing. Notably, a sizeable percentage of Nevada Latino voters lacked knowledge about each candidate’s views and positions on immigration, with 38% of Nevada Latino voters saying they don’t know Joe Heck’s views on immigration and 36% saying they don’t know Catherine Cortez Masto’s views.

Following last night’s primary results, the new polling and its implications offer some important takeaways for both parties. Below, we present a sampling of some of the coverage and commentary that lifts up or links to the new Latino Decisions polling as part of a larger assessment of the current political moment and what it means for this November and beyond:

Enrique Acevedo, a Univision anchor, writes a new assessment for Fusion, “Trump Can’t Get to the White House Without the Latino Vote”:

“The GOP finds itself in more of the same this election cycle. Internal divisions have allowed loud voices from the radical fringe to hijack the party once again. If 1996 sparked the Latino political revolution, 2016 will mark its fastest spread across the country as a record number of Latinos seek citizenship and register to vote against Trump.

According to the New York Times, naturalization applications increased by more than 10% last year. A new poll released last week by America’s Voice and Latino Decisions found that 48% of Latinos are more enthusiastic about voting this year than they were in 2012, and 41% said their enthusiasm is driven by their opposition to Trump. The latest Univision Washington Post poll revealed 8 out of every 10 Latino voters have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

To Hispanic America, Trump is the new Proposition 187.”

Fabiola Santiago, a columnist for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, writes a new column, Donald Trump says Hispanics love him. Survey says: Wrong!:

“Most [Latinos] think Trump is toxic and is pushing the Republican Party in the wrong direction. Why does it matter? Because against Hillary Clinton, Trump would lose Florida’s Hispanic vote in nothing short of an embarrassing smack-down — 69 percent to 18, according to the poll conducted by the political research group Latino Decisions and commissioned by the pro-immigration reform group America’s Voice.

Short and long-term, the Republican Party will pay for Trump’s divisive campaign, for rallying nativists and pitting them against minority groups without any regard to the damage he’s inflicting on the country. When a group of people is attacked, they retrench, regroup, recharge. And that’s what’s happening with Hispanics, who are registering to vote in high numbers, according to activists. They’re becoming a more powerful voting bloc — and in Florida, which has made a big difference in previous elections, Hispanics already have tremendous political and economic power. They count and they vote.

The GOP’s problem with Latinos pre-dates Trump — and nowhere is that more true than in Florida. The Florida GOP and Donald Trump are a match made in policy.

…Trump’s rhetoric has been the Florida GOP’s agenda — only Scott, Bondi, and other GOP leaders aren’t bombastic like Trump. But they’re just as lethal to immigrants and other minority groups.”

Ed Kilgore writing at New York Magazine, “More Frontlash: New Poll Shows Trump Poised for Record-Low Latino Showing

“There’s never been much doubt that nominating Donald Trump for president would signify that Republicans value white voters who resent Latinos more than Latinos as a voting target. In other words, it’s a gamble on a backlash. And part of the calculation is that Mitt Romney came pretty close to beating Barack Obama in 2012 with an abysmal showing among Latinos, who are pretty thin on the ground in a lot of battleground states. So why not mobilize “missing white voters” — marginal voters who will definitely vote Republican if they show up — instead of trying to persuade distant Latinos? How much worse could it get among Latinos anyway?

Maybe quite a bit worse, it appears. A new and very credible-looking Latino Decisions survey of 2,200 Latino registered voters shows Donald Trump sinking to one of those approval/disapproval ratios that when you take errors into account approaches unanimity: 9-87. In trial heats against Democrats, Trump loses to Clinton among Latinos 11-76, and to Sanders 11-78. Trump may be benefiting from the kind of honky backlash that reminds people of the salad days of George Wallace, but he’s stimulating a minority frontlash that’s potentially a lot more powerful and long-lasting.”

Kerry Eleveld writing at Daily Kos, “GOP Candidates’ Attitudes on Immigration, Deportation Promise to Doom Them with Latino Voters”:

“It’s hard to overstate just how devastating the latest round of Latino Decisions’ new national polling promises to be for the Republican Party this November. It’s not just about what we already knew—that Latino voters despise GOP frontrunner Donald Trump: 87% of Latino voters have either a “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump (79% “very unfavorable”), as compared to just 9% of who view him as “very” or “somewhat” favorable – meaning that his net favorability is underwater by 78 percentage points.

…What that means is that Latino voters’ perceptions of whether GOP candidates will end President Obama’s deferred deportation programs (i.e. DAPA and DACA) are casting a dark cloud over the entire Republican field. Fully 74 percent say the GOP presidential candidates’ commitment to ending DAPA makes them less likely to vote Republican come November; and nearly as many, 73 percent, say the same of the GOP presidential candidates’ wish to end DACA.

On immigration and deportation, it’s personal for Latino voters, not theoretical—and that makes all the difference. 57% of those surveyed indicated that they know a friend, family member, co-worker, or other relationship who is an undocumented immigrant; 34% know someone who is facing immigration related detention or deportation; and a third of respondents know someone who applied for DACA.” 

Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, “Buying into Trump’s Fake Pivot would Ruin the GOP”:

“Word on the street is that Donald Trump wants to hire a serious campaign team and give some serious policy speeches — 10 months after his presidential announcement and just as he has nearly secured the Republican nomination.

…Any rebranding effort must honestly confront the problems of the brand. Trump has a disapproval rating of 70 percent among women and the highest overall disapproval rating recorded by Gallup since it began tracking this measure in 1992. Among voters 18 to 24, Trump loses to Hillary Clinton (who is notoriously weak among younger voters) by 25 points. A recent poll found Trump with 11 percent support among Latinos, the lowest support for a Republican presidential candidate since polls began tracking Latino votes. In Florida — which was won by Jeb and George W. Bush as governor and president — Trump is losing to Clinton among Hispanic voters by 51 points. Fifty-one points.

…GOP leaders such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus are trying to pretend this is a normal political moment, in which the party should forget its disagreements and unite against the Democrat. ‘We can’t win,’ he says, ‘unless we rally around whoever becomes our nominee.’ This is a dangerous delusion. If Trump is chosen in Cleveland, the Republican Party is headed toward electoral disaster, all the way down the ticket. Many if not most Republican candidates at the state and local levels would need to run in revolt against their party’s presidential pick.

It was under Priebus’s leadership that the 2012 Republican ‘autopsy’ was produced, a document calling for accelerated outreach to women, the young and Latino voters. Trump represents the reversal of everything Priebus had planned for the Republican future. If Priebus ends up blessing the Trump nomination, the results would reach far beyond 2016. It would turn the sins of Trump into the sins of the GOP. And Priebus would go down as the head of the party who squandered the legacy of Lincoln, the legacy of Reagan, in a squalid and hopeless political effort. If Trump wins in Cleveland, Priebus should think beyond the current election and demonstrate the existence of a party better than its nominee. The head of the RNC should resign, rather than be complicit as his party is defiled.”

Edward Luce, writing in the Financial Times, “The Coming U.S. Hispanic Backlash” 

“If you want a glimpse of America’s future, turn to California. In 2014, when Mr Trump was pondering his White House run, the state crossed a Rubicon. The number of Hispanics surpassed the number of whites. Two years earlier, California passed a related political milestone. For the first time it failed to elect a single Republican to statewide office. Not only is the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, a Democrat but roughly two-thirds of each legislative chamber are too. If a Republican were elected governor, the assembly could override his veto. The state that produced Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon has relegated the party to a veto-proof minority, which is where it is likely to stay.

Mr Trump is doing his best to chart a similar course for the national party. In the last presidential election in 2012, Mitt Romney received just 27 per cent of the Hispanic vote — a sharp drop from what George W Bush had attracted. It was a key factor in Mr Romney’s defeat. He had urged Hispanics to ‘self-deport’. At the time his words seemed hardline. Mr Trump has taken it up several notches by referring to illegal Mexican immigrants as ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers’ and vowing to deport them forcibly. Unsurprisingly, he is polling at barely double digits among Hispanics. A generation ago, Latino Americans were concentrated in California, Texas, and Chicago. They are now spread nationally. In states such as Colorado, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia, non-Cuban Hispanic voters could tip a race. All the signs are that Hispanic groups are determined to make that a reality in 2016.

…How long will Republicans pay for Mr Trump’s anti-Hispanic rhetoric? If history offers a guide, it will be a long time. If America’s future offers another, nominating Mr Trump could mark a point of no return. California provides the writing on the wall, so to speak — a wall that Republicans will pay for.”