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The Real October Surprise this Election Looks To Be the “Latino Firewall” for Hillary Clinton

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Mounting evidence of a Latino voter surge, nationally and in key states

Throughout this election cycle, one of the key questions has been whether Donald Trump would turn out “missing white voters” in numbers big enough to win him the presidency. The theory, popular on the right in recent years, is that the GOP should focus on mobilizing disaffected white working class voters who traditionally sit out elections rather than reaching out to Latino and other non-white voters. With the rise of Trump, the theory is being put to the test as never before.

But with four days to go before Election Day, it seems that the “missing white voters” strategy is backfiring. The evidence suggests that while Trump is maximizing the angry white male vote, he is also mobilizing the Latino vote even more. As longtime journalist Ray Suarez noted on Twitter, “I originally thought Latino vote interesting, not determinative. New scenarios see Latinos supplying key bricks in Clinton firewall. NV, VA.”

A range of national and state political experts have been making similar points all this week:

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes in a piece entitled, “About those missing white voters: Missing nonwhite voters may end up mattering, too,”

“The big potential flaw in Trump’s whole “missing whites” strategy has always been that the measures he’s apparently thought would help get those voters out — in particular, the relentless xenophobia and racist campaign — risked driving up turnout among nonwhites. It would be quite the ironic outcome if Trump’s ‘missing whites’ strategy ended up making ‘missing nonwhites’ matter to the outcome more than they otherwise would have if another Republican had been the nominee. Particularly if Trump ends up losing.”

Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin of the New York Times highlight how the Clinton campaign is leaning into Latino outreach in the campaign’s homestretch, recognizing the pivotal role Latino voters could play in a Clinton victory next Tuesday:

“Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, told donors on a conference call Thursday that the campaign expected to win Florida and North Carolina in large part because of Hispanic turnout. In Nevada, a third diverse battleground state, Mr. Mook said he no longer saw a path for Mr. Trump to win there.”

Also in the Washington Post, John Wagner, Anne Gearan, and Jose DelReal write a story titled, “Early voting by Latinos may help Clinton in several states,” that notes:

“Fresh election data suggest that the Democratic nominee appears to be benefiting from upticks in participation by Latinos, who historically vote in lower numbers than the electorate overall. The trend, say advocates seeking to expand the Hispanic vote, is largely motivated by distaste for Trump, who has proposed hardline immigration policies and stirred emotions from the outset of his campaign with a series of controversial statements about Mexicans and other Latinos … Among the groups seeking to bolster Latino participation this cycle is the Center for Community Change Action, which has targeted the battleground states of Florida, Nevada and Colorado. Jeff Parcher, the group’s communications director, said the aim is to get voters to the polls who haven’t been participating in elections. ‘These low-propensity voters are never targeted by the campaigns,’ he said, suggesting that if the drive is successful, it could be a ‘game changer’ in states where the margin is close.”

In the Los Angeles Times, Lisa Mascaro writes a story titled, “Latinos could set a record by casting almost 15 million ballots for president. Activists call it the Trump bump.”Mascaro writes:

“Voter enthusiasm among Latino voters is at an all-time high this year … ‘It’s a combination of enthusiasm to stop Trump — which is probably the strongest driver — but you also see a percent of Latinos that just support Clinton,’ said Gabriel Sanchez, an associate professor of political science at the University of New Mexico. ‘The Trump bump: That’s basically the reason it’s driving up — to block Trump.’”

The final Washington Post/Univision poll of Latino voterswhich finds Clinton leading among Latinos 67-19%, includes this point about Latino motivation and energy: by a 78-4% margin, Latino voters view this election as “more important” rather than “less important” compared to past presidential election cycles.

And Politico’s Marc Caputo highlights the same poll, which probed Latino voters in key battleground states. The survey finds that Latino voters are backing Clinton over Trump by 30 percentage points in Florida, 49 percentage points in Arizona, and 53 percentage points in Nevada. Caputo quotes pollster Fernand Amandi:

“‘The share of the Hispanic vote is growing every election and this will be the third presidential election in Florida where Hispanics trend heavily against the GOP,’ Amandi said. ‘And if that continues, it could turn Florida into the next California in future presidential elections, a blue anchor state’ … The takeaway, Amandi said, is that Trump’s poor standing with Latinos underscores a broader problem with the Republican Party, which has blocked immigration reform and has done little to court the Hispanic vote. ‘The Republican Party has an unwillingness to learn the lessons of 2008 and 2012 … Donald Trump is a symptom of the Republican Party’s problem. He’s not the cause.’”

In Florida, elections guru Steve Schale notes how close Florida is in 2016 and the critical role Latino voters could play if Clinton pulls it out:

“Let’s talk about the Hispanic vote a little today. First, through Wednesday, 170,000 more Hispanics had voted early (or VBM) in 2016 than voted early or by VBM in the entire 2012 cycle. And keep in mind, because Hispanic is a self-identifying marker, studies have found that the real Hispanic vote is larger than the registration. So while Hispanics might make up 14.2% of the voters who have voted so far, in reality, the number is larger. And it isn’t just that Hispanics are voting, it is the types of Hispanics who are voting. Here is one way to look at it: Right now, statewide, 16% of early voters are either first time Florida voters, or haven’t voted in any of the last three elections. Across party lines, 24% of all the Hispanic votes today come from these first-time voters. Among Hispanic Republicans, it is 14%, among Democrats, it goes up to 26%, and among Hispanic NPAs, a whopping 32% have no previous or recent voting history. When you expand it out to voters who voted in one of the last three, which is what I define as ‘low propensity,’ it goes up to 53% of Hispanic Democrats and 60% of Hispanic NPAs. That, my friends, is the definition of a surge.”

In Nevada, Politico Playbook lifts up the essential work of Nevada’s lead political analyst Jon Ralston, who has been highlighting that Latino voters’ engagement is a major component of Clinton’s early vote lead in the state:

“Despite the recent tightening of the race, election night could be super boring. If Nevada political guru Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) is right — and he usually is — Hillary Clinton has all but won that state.”

As he explained elsewhere, “The biggest help [Democrats have] got is Donald Trump…They’re all using him to try to turn out Latino voters.”

In Arizona, the Arizona Republic highlights that “Arizona Leads Nation in Early-Voter Surge By Latinos.”

“Arizona has seen the largest increase of early voting by Latinos of any state. As of October 30, nine days before the November 8 election, 13 percent of the early ballots cast in Arizona came from Latino voters, up from 11 percent at the same point prior to the 2012 presidential election and from 8 percent in 2008.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The real October surprise this election year looks to be the Latino firewall that will block Donald Trump and elect Hillary Clinton. In case there was any doubt, the Latino community has become a significant force in American politics, and no one can win the presidency without their support.”