At a panel of communications professionals from all over the world at the Open Society Foundations last week, I advised the gathered to keep an eye out for polls from Hispanic media outlets. Doing this would give them a more accurate view of where this vital voting bloc stands in the contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Little did I know Univision Noticias would release a survey that has nothing but bad news for the Republican Party and the man it is set to nominate in Cleveland this week.
According to the poll of 1,000 registered Hispanic voters, if the election were held today only 19 percent would vote for the Big Apple billionaire. His unfavorable rating is a stunning 77 percent. And a whopping 73 percent “believe that Donald Trump is racist.”
No one should be surprised by these findings.
This is what happens when you say “I love Hispanics!” in a tweet that features a photo of you eating a taco bowl to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. This is the result when the hallmarks of your presidential campaign are saying that Mexicans are “rapists,” that you’re going to build a wall on the southern border to keep them out and have Mexico pay for it, and that you’re going to have a “deportation force . . . humanely” round up and eject the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Oh, and you question the impartiality of a federal judge presiding over a lawsuit against you, first because he is “Mexican” and then because of his “Mexican heritage” after it was revealed that said jurist was born and raised in Indiana.
The Univision poll is just further proof that Trump is going nowhere with Hispanic voters. An analysis done last year by the group Latino Decisions showed how much of that bloc the eventual Republican presidential nominee would need in order to win the White House. Of the three scenarios presented, the one with the lowest bar to clear required the GOP candidate to win 42 percent of the Hispanic vote.
Again, this “best-case scenario for the GOP” requires “the expected growth in the Latino vote [to] not fully materialize, the white vote to perform at 2014 levels and the African American vote to sink to “pre-[President] Obama levels.” Now, if the same voting conditions in November 2012 were replicated in 2016, Trump would need to win 52 percent of the Hispanic vote. One of the keys to this scenario is an increase in Latino voter participation.
According to a presentation by the NALEO Educational Fund from last February, 9.7 million Latinos voted in 2008. That 28 percent increase over 2004’s participation was a record for this sought-after constituency. By 2012, more than 11 million went to the ballot box. NALEO projects that 13.1 million Latinos will go to the voting booth this November.
I hesitate to bring up results for Clinton because there is no contest between her and Trump for the Latino vote. The survey shows that Clinton is viewed favorably by 69 percent of Latinos surveyed by Univision and would get 67 percent of their vote if the the election were held today. But a word of caution if all this has you thinking that Trump has a first-class ticket to electoral doom.
When I asked Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, if she thought Trump could win given the devastating numbers in the Univision poll, she replied via email, “If Latinos sit it out.“ This is a very real concern that has been discussed for months.
NALEO’s report showed that 27.3 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote this November. That means the record number of Hispanics NALEO believes will show up at the polls is less than half of that eligible-to-vote number. That same report showed that voter participation dropped from 49.9 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2012.
And as a Pew Research Center study from last January made clear, lower Hispanic voter participation has the potential to get worse. But before I dive into that data, you need to know one of my favorite stats from a Resurgent Republic report on Hispanic voters from 2012 that will put what follows into perspective.
This is why, according to that Pew study, “The median age among the nation’s 35 million U.S.-born Latinos is only 19.” And then there’s this: “Hispanic millennials will account for nearly half (44 percent) of the record 27.3 million Hispanic eligible voters projected for 2016—a share greater than any other racial or ethnic group of voters.”
Amazing, right? But, as Pew points out, like all young voters, Latino young voters “are less likely to cast a ballot than older voters.” In fact, with the exception of Asian Americans, they are less likely to vote than any other demographic.
In 2012, just 37.8 percent of Latino millennials voted, compared with 53.9 percent among non-millennial Latinos. The voter turnout rate among Latino millennials also trails that of other millennial groups. Some 47.5 percent of white millennials and 55 percent of black millennials voted in 2012. Among Asian millennials, 37.3 percent voted.
This feeds into the larger voter participation problem among the Hispanic electorate pointed out by Pew. “In 2012, fewer than half (48 percent) of Hispanic eligible voters cast a ballot,” the report notes. “By comparison, 64.1 percent of whites and 66.6 percent of blacks voted.”
If Trump is to be denied the White House, we know the power to do that is in Hispanic American hands, particularly those of millennials. They have to turn their palpable anger at the racist, xenophobic and nativist campaign Trump has run into record turnout and record voter participation. In short, they can’t sit it out.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj