New polling of Florida Latino voters, conducted by Latino Decisions and commissioned by America’s Voice, makes clear that immigration matters to Florida Latino voters; that Donald Trump is deeply unpopular with Latino voters; and that the Republican Party’s brand image is deeply damaged and getting worse, due in part to Trump’s rise and the politicized U.S. v Texas Supreme Court case.
Among the key findings:
Immigration Matters to Florida Latino Voters – It’s Personal: When asked the open-ended question, “what are the most important issues that you think Congress and the President should address,” Florida Latino voters ranked the economy/jobs first at 47%, immigration second at 24%, terrorism at 14%, health care at 13%, and education at 11%. However, when asked “what are the most important issues facing the Latino community that you think Congress and the President should address?”, Florida Latino voters ranked immigration first at 34%, followed by the economy/jobs (33%), health care (15%), education (11%), and anti-Latino or anti-immigrant discrimination (9%). The polling underscores the fact that Latino voters have a personal connection to the immigration debate – 39% of Florida Latino voters know someone who is undocumented; 25% of Florida Latino voters know someone who has faced deportation or detention for immigration reasons; and 20% know someone who has applied for DACA.
Donald Trump and His Anti-Immigrant Views Are Incredibly Unpopular with Florida Latinos: Despite growing speculation that Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is trying to appear as a more “disciplined” candidate in preparation for a possible general election candidacy, the new Latino polling numbers makes clear the extent of the challenge Trump and the Republican Party will have in trying to reverse the damage inflicted by Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign. In the new polling, 84% of Florida Latino voters have either a “very” or “somewhat” unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump (73% “very unfavorable”), as compared to just 12% of who view him as “very” or “somewhat” favorable – meaning that his net favorability is underwater by 72 percentage points. Trump’s views on mass deportation make Florida Latino voters “less likely” to vote for Trump, rather than “more likely,” by an 75%-10% margin. And when asked to gauge Donald Trump’s views on immigrants and immigration on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being the most anti-immigrant and 10 being the most pro-immigrant, 63% of Florida Latino voter respondents ranked Trump as a 1, the most extreme anti-immigrant ranking.
The Republican Brand with Florida Latino Voters is Deeply Damaged – with Donald Trump Helping to Dig a Deeper Hole: Nearly 2-of-3 Florida Latino voters say the Republican Party “doesn’t care too much about Latinos” (39%) or that the GOP is “sometimes hostile towards Latinos” (26%), while just 22% say the Republican Party “truly cares about the Latino community.” Additionally, when Florida Latino voters are asked if the GOP has, in recent years, become more welcoming to Latinos, more hostile to Latinos, or has not really changed, 43% say the Republican Party has become more hostile, 14% say the Republican Party has become more welcoming; and 35% say no change. Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s views on immigration are taking a toll on the larger GOP brand – 68% of Florida Latino respondents say that Trump’s views on immigrants and immigration make them “less likely” to vote Republican this November.
The Republican Presidential Nominee Could Underperform Mitt Romney’s Performance Among Florida Latinos from 2012: When asked candidate head-to-head matchups between the parties’ leading presidential contenders, Florida Latino voters prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a 69%-18% margin, and Clinton over Ted Cruz by a 58%-36% margin. Bernie Sanders is favored over Trump by a 64%-20% margin and over Cruz by a 49%-40% margin. In 2012, Florida Latino voters ended up supporting President Obama by a 69%-30% margin over Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election, according to Latino Decisions Election Eve polling (60%-39% among Florida Latinos in 2012 media-sponsored exit polls).
The Political Impact of the U.S. v Texas Ruling Will Matter this November: The polling also showed that Florida Latino voters will punish the Republicans for opposing executive action and reward the Democrats for defending it. Per the new polling, knowing that Republican presidential candidates want to end DAPA, the 2014 executive action that would protect the undocumented parents of American children, makes Florida Latino voters “less likely,” rather than “more likely,” to vote for the Republican Party this November by a 69%-13% margin in the case of DAPA. Similarly, knowing that Republican presidential candidates want to end DACA, the 2012 executive action that protects Dreamers, makes Florida Latino voters “less likely,” rather than “more likely,” to vote for the Republican Party this November by a 59%-20% margin. Meanwhile, knowing that Democratic presidential candidates want to continue DAPA and DACA makes Florida Latino voters “more likely,” rather than “less likely,” to vote for the Democratic Party this November by a 63%-23% margin in the case of DAPA and a 66%-17% margin in the case of DACA.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Immigration is of course a major issue for Latino voters, as is concern over the economy and jobs. By asking the ‘most important’ issue question in two different ways, the polling helps remind us that these issues are ‘both/and’ concerns for Latino voters, not ‘either/or’ issues. This election cycle has injected immigration into the national political debate in an unprecedented way and this polling brings home in stark reality the fact that Latino voters feel personally targeted by Donald Trump and the Republican Party as a whole. The numbers do not bode well for the Republicans and the vision of the inclusive party they had hoped to build post-2012.”
According to Sylvia Manzano, Principal of Latino Decisions, “Immigration has become a defining issue in this election and the Latino community feels this shift very sharply. There’s a feeling that the Latino community is under attack and we’re seeing that reflected in voting preferences and unfavorables toward the Republican Party. We hear a lot about the Republican party losing Latino voters, but we rarely have a measure of that. But, here we’ve captured one. It’s not good if people disagree with the party on issues but it’s even worse if they think the party doesn’t like them or who they are, as an immutable trait, that being—being Latino. In fact, the divisive rhetoric of the GOP is helping to make Latino political identity more cohesive.”
According to Serena Perez, Organizing Coordinator of New Florida Majority, “For us this election has been very different than previous elections—this year voter education is much higher. Latinos know who these candidates are, they have a clear understanding of what is at stake and why they want to register to vote. The enthusiasm to vote that we see in the polling data is apparent on the ground. This campaign cycle more than any other has inspired anxiety, especially among young people, that the little that the community has gained through DACA and potentially DAPA, could be taken, and that has been extremely frustrating and mobilizing for the thousands of voters we’ve registered.”