New USC Dornsife/LA Times Polling of CA Voters Matches Findings from Recent Nationwide Polling, Underscores Political Dangers for GOP in 2016 General Election and Beyond
The state of California represents a cautionary tale for the national Republican Party on how anti-immigrant politics can help accelerate the electoral consequences of demographic change. In the mid-1990s, California’s infamous Proposition 187 and the anti-immigrant politics of Governor Pete Wilson helped make the GOP brand toxic to the state’s rapidly growing ranks of Latino voters. As a result, California transformed from a purple state into a blue state.
A new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of California voters captures how much California has changed. The research, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and containing a Latino voter oversample, should offer smart Republicans a host of reminders why the national Republican Party should do everything possible to avoid a California-style fate.
Among the key findings in the poll:
- Donald Trump is Toxic to Latino Voters: Among Latino voters, Trump has a 9% favorable rating vs. a 87% unfavorable rating. This means he is underwater by a massive, negative 78 percentage point margin. Among the other Republican contenders, Ted Cruz has a favorable – unfavorable margin of 30% – 46% among Latino voters, while John Kasich has a narrow 29%-26% positive favorability among Latino voters, but remains largely unknown.
- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are Popular Among Latino Voters: Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton enjoys a 70%-28% favorability among Latino voters and Bernie Sanders a 65%-19% favorability among Latino voters.
- Hillary Clinton Would Overwhelmingly Win Latino Voters in Head-to-Head Candidate Match ups Against GOP Contenders: In head-to-head candidate match ups among Latino voters, Clinton leads over Trump by a 78%-13% margin; over Cruz by a 74%-20% margin; and over Kasich by a 68%-21% margin (the public polling release does not include head-to-head match ups involving Bernie Sanders and the GOP field).
- Four-of-Five California Voters Oppose Trump/Cruz Deportation-Focused Immigration Policies: When asked a three-part question on preferred policies for undocumented immigrants – allowed to stay and eventually apply for citizenship; allowed to stay but not be allowed to apply for citizenship; or required to leave the country – the vast majority of California voters support policies allowing undocumented immigrants to stay and oppose deportation. In this poll, 78% of overall respondents (74% of white voters and 90% of Latino voters) support either of the “stay” options (65% for citizenship and 14% for the legal residency without citizenship option), with only 16% of respondents backing the “required to leave” policies that Trump and Cruz have embraced.
- Trump’s Other Immigration Policy Ideas are Similarly Unpopular with California Voters: When asked if voters “support or oppose Donald Trump’s views on immigration and the Mexican border,” overall California voters oppose the Trump views by a 68%-28% margin (60%-36% among white voters and 82%-15% among Latino voters). A follow-up question specifically testing support for Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico found that California voters oppose the notion by a 66%-31% margin.
While these new poll results are limited to California respondents, the basic takeaways match what we’ve seen in a series of other recent nationwide polls – Donald Trump is incredibly unpopular among Latinos, Republicans look poised to repeat and exceed their major problems with Latino voters seen so acutely in the 2012 elections, and the public as a whole remains overwhelmingly in favor of immigration policy for undocumented immigrants that allows them to stay rather than requires them to leave (by a 4:1 margin in Gallup polling; a 4:1 margin in Public Religion Research Institute polling; and a 3:1 margin in Pew Research polling, each reflecting stable trend lines over multiple polls in recent years).
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Donald Trump likes to say that ‘the Hispanics love me.’ Based on the evidence, he is clearly wrong. Poll after poll shows that in an election in which it is projected that the GOP nominee will have to garner between 42-47% of the Latino vote nationwide to win the popular vote, Trump is toxic with this crucial segment of the electorate. In addition, Trump’s harsh immigration policies have very little traction in a state that has experienced more immigration than most. It all adds up to one conclusion: the Trump general election campaign will not be about making America great again; it will be about making Republican lose again.”