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New Battleground State Latino Polling: Trump on Track for Historically Low Performance, But Senate Democratic Candidates Missing Opportunity to Define Themselves on Immigration

 

Newly released statewide polling of Latino voters in the 2016 battleground states of ArizonaColoradoFloridaNevadaNorth CarolinaOhio, and Virginia finds that Donald Trump is on track for an historically low performance among Latino voters.

However, the polls also reveal that Senate Democratic candidates in these states have failed to define themselves and their opponents on key immigration policy questions, and that those issues matter to the electorate. These findings could help explain why Democratic Senate candidates are underperforming with Latinos when compared to the presidential ticket and the generic congressional ballot.

Conducted by Latino Decisions and commissioned by America’s Voice, the seven statewide Latino voter polls follow last week’s release of new nationwide Latino voter polling (national poll topline results and crosstabs are available on the Latino Decisions website) and an April release of the first wave of Latino voter data. A related poll on Latino voters’ views following the Supreme Court deadlock on DAPA and DACA expansion is available here.

America’s Voice also commissioned Latino Decisions for a quick nationwide poll gauging Latinos’ reactions to Donald Trump’s immigration speech last week – findings here and accompanying write-up here.

Among the key findings in the new state-based Latino voter polling:

Donald Trump is on track for a historically low performance among Latino voters: When asked about the head-to-head matchup between the Clinton and Trump, Latino voters nationwide prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 70%-19%. In the seven battleground states polled, Clinton leads Trump by the following margins among Latino voters: 70%-18% in Arizona; 72%-17% in Colorado; 62%-27% in Florida; 70%-14% in Nevada; 73%-14% in North Carolina; 61%-22% in Ohio; and 67%-19% in Virginia. This puts Trump on track to underperform Mitt Romney’s historically poor performance among Latino voters in 2012, when Latinos 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).

In battleground 2016 Senate races, Democratic candidates lead in each contest – but are underperforming compared to the presidential ticket and generic congressional ballot in most of the states. Six of the seven states polled feature a 2016 Senate contest and Latino voter respondents in those states were asked about the head-to-head Senate matchup between the nominees. In each of the seven states, Latino voters were asked if they planned to vote for the Democratic congressional candidate or the Republican congressional candidate. Among Latino voter respondents in each state:

AZ: Clinton leads Trump 70%-18%; Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick leads Republican Senator John McCain 57%-31%; and the unnamed Democratic congressional candidate leads over the unnamed Republican congressional candidate 69%-15%

CO: Clinton leads Trump 72%-17%; Democratic Senator Michael Bennett leads Republican Darryl Glenn 72%-17%; and the unnamed Democratic congressional candidate leads over the unnamed Republican congressional candidate 72%-15%

FL: Clinton leads Trump 62%-27%; Democrat Patrick Murphy leads Republican Senator Marco Rubio 47%-43%; and the unnamed Democratic congressional candidate leads over the unnamed Republican congressional candidate 52%-31%

NV: Clinton leads Trump 70%-14%; Democrat Catherine Cortez-Masto leads Republican Joe Heck 61%-22%; and the unnamed Democratic congressional candidate leads over the unnamed Republican congressional candidate 71%-17%

NC: Clinton leads Trump 73%-14%; Democrat Deborah Ross leads Republican Senator Richard Burr 58%-24%; and the unnamed Democratic congressional candidate leads over the unnamed Republican congressional candidate 69%-17%

OH: Clinton leads Trump 61%-22%; Democrat Ted Strickland leads Republican Senator Rob Portman 50%-32%; and the unnamed Democratic congressional candidate leads over the unnamed Republican congressional candidate 62%-19%

VA: In Virginia, Clinton leads Trump 67%-19% and Latino voters plan to vote for the unnamed Democratic candidate in congressional contests by a 64%-19% margin over the unnamed Republican candidate.

In many of these battlegrounds, the Democratic Senate candidates have yet to define themselves and their opponents on central immigration policy issues:The poll asked, “when it comes to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration and providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants” do you know if [name of Senate candidate] supports these policies, opposes them, or you haven’t heard or don’t know?

AZ: 76% of Latino voters don’t know Ann Kirkpatrick’s position on reform with a path to citizenship and executive actions; 61% don’t know John McCain’s

CO: 69% of Latino voters don’t know Michael Bennet’s position on reform with a path to citizenship and executive actions; 65% don’t know Darryl Glenn’s

FL: 63% of Latino voters don’t know Patrick Murphy’s position on reform with a path to citizenship and executive actions; 47% don’t know Marco Rubio’s

NV: 64% of Latino voters don’t know Catherine Cortez-Masto’s position on reform with a path to citizenship and executive actions; 65% don’t know Joe Heck’s

NC: 76% of Latino voters don’t know Deborah Ross’s position on reform with a path to citizenship and executive actions; 71% don’t know Richard Burr’s

OH: 65% of Latino voters don’t know Ted Strickland’s position on reform with a path to citizenship and executive actions; 62% don’t know Rob Portman’s

Immigration matters to Latino voters in these battleground states: Why does the failure to make immigration a defining issue in these Senate races matter? Put simply, because immigration matters to Latino voters in these states. For instance, the poll described the Democratic and Republican Senate candidate’s current stances on comprehensive immigration reform and DACA/DAPA, asking whether said positions made respondents more likely or less likely to vote for the candidate (or if it had no effect):

AZ: 65% of Latino voters said Ann Kirkpatrick’s pro-comprehensive immigration reform and pro-DACA and DAPA stances made them more likely to vote for her; 64% said John McCain’s positions – described as voting for comprehensive immigration reform in 2013 but opposed to DACA and DAPA – made them less likely to vote for him.

CO: 67% of Latino voters said Michael Bennet’s pro-comprehensive immigration reform and pro-DACA and DAPA stances made them more likely to vote for him; 71% said Darryl Glenn’s opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, DACA, and DAPA made them less likely to vote for him.

FL: 67% of Latino voters said Patrick Murphy’s pro-comprehensive immigration reform and pro-DACA and DAPA stances made them more likely to vote for him; 56% said Marco Rubio’s positions – described as backing away from past support for comprehensive immigration reform and opposing DACA and DAPA – made them less likely to vote for him.

NV: 71% of Latino voters said Catherine Cortez Masto’s pro-comprehensive immigration reform and pro-DACA and DAPA stances made them more likely to vote for her; 65% said Joe Heck’s positions – described as “Heck has talked about comprehensive immigration reform, but he has not vote for any immigration reform bills, and never introduced his own legislation” and opposing DACA and DAPA – made them less likely to vote for him.

NC: 71% of Latino voters said Deborah Ross’s pro-comprehensive immigration reform and pro-DACA and DAPA stances made them more likely to vote for her; 75% said Richard Burr’s opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, DACA, and DAPA made them less likely to vote for him.

OH: 54% of Latino voters said Ted Strickland’s pro-comprehensive immigration reform and pro-DACA and DAPA stances made them more likely to vote for him; 58% said Rob Portman’s opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, DACA, and DAPA made them less likely to vote for him.

Support for Trump could be an anchor on the hopes of Republican Senate candidates: The poll asked, if you knew that [name of Republican Senate candidate] was supporting Donald Trump for president, would you be more or less likely to vote for them? Among Latino voter respondents in each state:

AZ: 71% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for John McCain

CO: 74% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Darryl Glenn

FL: 58% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Marco Rubio

NV: 68% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Joe Heck

NC: 74% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Richard Burr

OH: 66% of Latino voters would be less likely to vote for Rob Portman

According to Gabriel Sanchez, Principal of Latino Decisions, “The America’s Voice/Latino Decisions survey data we have released today provides an ideal vantage point of where things stand with the Latino electorate at this point in the presidential election cycle. That data indicates that Latino registered voters are very engaged in the election largely due to the prominent role immigration continues to have in Latino electoral politics. However, it also reveals that there must be greater Latino focused outreach to ensure that Latinos turnout at high rates to maximize their potential influence across key battleground states.”

According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, “Even though the Latino vote is small in Ohio, it plays a factor in tipping the state. In 2012, President Barack Obama won by 166,000 total votes.  The Latino voter population was 199,000 in 2014, and the population is growing faster than the broader electorate.

“But even broader than that, Latinos are part of a group of Ohioans under attack by Trump and the Republican agenda, a cohort that includes African-Americans, women, Muslims, and progressives in general. If these voters unite, they’ll be a truly potent force in Ohio.

“As we’ve seen over the years, Sen. Rob Portman has been disappointing in regards to his actions on immigration, but he’s trying to cast himself as a moderate. He voted against comprehensive immigration reform, DACA, and DAPA, and yet some people still think he holds a favorable position on immigration. They need to know where he truly stands. Governor Ted Strickland, on the other hand, is very supportive of DACA/DAPA and has spoken out against Attorney General Mike DeWine’s lawsuit against Ohio immigrant families. To win in November, it’s clear that Strickland needs to lean in and educate more Latino voters about the differences between him and Portman on immigration as well as a range of other issues.”

According to Tim Eakins, State Director of North Carolina’s Voice, “Here in North Carolina, the top of the ticket is well-defined and Trump is overwhelmingly despised by Latinos to the tune of 81% unfavorables. The numbers on the senate race are very concerning and show that Latinos are not aware of Ross’s pro-immigrant stance or that their two-term sitting Senator Burr is anti-immigrant. With only 33% of Latinos having been contacted by a campaign, party, or organization about the elections so far this year, the big story of the day is that Democrats are not investing in outreach to Latinos. With only 60 days left, Ross has a clear opportunity to make big gains with Latinos.”

According to Alvina Vasquez, State Director of Colorado’s Voice, “It’s disappointing to learn that many Latino voters haven’t learned about the candidates and their positions, especially since mail-in ballots will be sent to voters in just over a month. These conversations should be happening year round, and we saw what happened with Sen. Udall. He ran and lost against Cory Gardner in 2012 because of abysmal outreach. We have to make sure that outreach increases, because the danger of a Trump presidency is frightening. Especially for candidates who supports immigration reform. Immigration reform is key, as it ties into other issues like the minimum wage and education.”

According to Elbert Garcia, State Director of Florida’s Voice, “The latest data tells us that Latinos of every demographic believe immigration is a top issue that the next Administration and Congress need to resolve, and they are willing to make electoral decisions based on the immigration positions of candidates. This is why Sen. Marco Rubio avoids discussing his past votes and positions on immigration. If Patrick Murphy engages Latinos on the issues, he could have a shot at beating the incumbent.”

According to Viridiana Vidal, State Director of Nevada’s Voice, “I’m really excited by these numbers – they show that Latinos are educating themselves, registering to vote, and ready to fight against Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign come November. The poll confirms that Latinos will decide this election cycle, and down-ballot campaigns need to do more to educate Latinos on who they are and what they stand for. Right now, Joe Heck is dominating the television with his advertisements. If she wants to win this November, Cortez-Masto needs to get her voice and her policy positions out there.”

RESOURCES

Read the state polling results and national polling results at the Latino Decisions website 

Arizona: crosstabstoplines
Colorado: crosstabstoplines
Florida: crosstabstoplines
Nevada: crosstabs; toplines
North Carolina: crosstabstoplines
Ohio: crosstabs; toplines
Virginia: crosstabs; toplines

View the slide presentation from the state polling presentations – (HERE for NC, OH, and VA and HERE for AZ, CO, FL, and NV)

Access an audio recording of today’s call on North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia HERE

Access an audio recording of today’s call on Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and Nevada HERE