The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Donald Trump is now doing worse with Hispanic voters than any Republican since 1996

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It is a little awkward that Donald Trump was telling a local TV station in Florida how well he was doing with Hispanic voters a few hours before Fox News Latino released a poll showing that he ... isn't.

"We're doing very well with the Latino vote," he told the interviewer, as transcribed by CBS's Sopan Deb, "and we're doing very well in Florida. Polls are coming out now showing we're doing well."

Well, not really. When Fox News polled Hispanic voters in May of this year, Trump was getting 23 percent of the vote from the group, trailing Hillary Clinton by 39 points. In the new survey, released a few hours after that interview, Trump has slipped and Clinton has gained, and Trump now trails by 46. That's a bigger deficit than the Republican presidential candidates saw in 2008 or 2012, according to exit polling.

We see the same gender split among Hispanics that shows up in the overall electorate. Hispanic men favor Clinton by 30 points; women, by 61. Clinton is viewed more favorably than not by Hispanic voters. Trump isn't.

It's important to note that 14 percent of voters in Fox's survey don't indicate a preference for Clinton or Trump. As the next three months unfold, many of them will pick one candidate or the other, and so Trump's percentage will likely increase. That's good, because if he did get 20 percent of the Hispanic vote on Election Day, it would be the worst performance by a Republican since 1976, when Gerald Ford got 18 percent of the Hispanic vote. At this rate, he might edge out Bob Dole's poor showing in 1996, another year that the Democratic candidate won the election.

But this isn't 1976 or 1996. (Apparently the Republican tanks with Hispanic voters every 20 years.) During those elections, Hispanics were a small percentage of the electorate. In 1976, exit polls suggest that 1 percent of voters were Hispanic. By 1996, that figure had only risen to 5 percent. In this election cycle, Pew projects that Hispanics will make up 12 percent of all voters, meaning that a poor Trump performance would overlap with heavy turnout.

There's still time, Trump and Trump supporters would remind you, and this is just one poll. Trump's right that he's doing better in Florida than in other swing states, trailing by only 2 points. But there is no evidence at this point to bolster his argument that he is "doing very well with the Latino vote." He isn't.

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