In a new post, Sylvia Manzano, Principal of Latino Decisions, compares the August 2016 Latino voter polling numbers of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to their political counterparts in 2012, showing Clinton ahead of President Obama’s Latino support and Trump falling further behind Romney’s standing among registered Latino voters.
Currently, 70% of Latinos plan to vote for Clinton, placing her five points ahead of President Obama in August 2012. Comparatively, only 19% of Latinos plan to vote for Trump, seven points behind Mitt Romney at this point in the 2012 cycle – putting him on track to underperform 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.
Manzano also reveals that enthusiasm is up among Latino registered voters at this point. However, enthusiasm and commitment to vote are not static factors. Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “Clinton’s challenge now is to reach as many potential voters as possible with her positive immigration message. Voters need someone to show up for, not just vote against.”
Democratic candidates for Senate, however, face yet another challenge. The Senate Democratic candidates are underperforming with Latinos as compared to the top of the ticket, to the tune of about 10 percentages points in many races. One reason? They have so far failed to define themselves and their opponents on central immigration issues – issues that the polling shows are influential to Latinos’ voters.
As Priscilla Alvarez notes in The Atlantic, “For those working to maintain Republicans’ congressional majority, the stakes are high… But Democrats might be vulnerable to losing votes from the Latino community, too—if their candidates’ positions on immigration continue to go unnoticed.”
In six battleground states with senatorial races, an average of 70.5% of respondents don’t know the Democratic candidates’ positions on immigration, according to a recent America’s Voice/ Latino Decisions poll. Once told these candidates’ correct positions and the positions of their opponents, Latino voters say they are more likely to support the Democrat and less likely to support the Republican.
Another important point is that the broader electorate agrees with Latinos on the issue of immigration. They support a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans, and oppose the Trump plan of total deportation. For example, in a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, 78% of voters – including 62% of Trump supporters – prefer a path to citizenship to deportation. A recent CNN/ORC poll found the number to be an overwhelming 88% in support of Latinos’ preferred immigration position, and Gallup reports similar findings, including among Republicans.
In Arizona, to take one of the battleground states reflected in the recent Latino Decisions polling, Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News polling among registered voters shows opposition to Trump’s border wall and even stronger opposition to mass deportation.
Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, added: “Two things are very clear at this point in the general election: first, Hillary Clinton is doing well with Latino voters, because she has leaned in and made her positions for sensible immigration reform clear. At the same time, Senate Democratic candidates have work to do, in order to maximize support from Latino voters. That starts with clearly articulating how they and their opponents differ on immigration, a threshold issue about inclusion, as well as a personal, family issue for many.
“This is not only a ‘Latino outreach’ strategy. The Democrats’ positions are strongly held by a majority of all voters. Candidates should highlight immigration solutions for every voter at every campaign stop because their plans are popular and common sense, while the Republicans’ are not.”