No matter what happens in Tuesday’s presidential election, the candidacy of Donald Trump has been an absolute demographic disaster for the Republican Party.
Why? Because Trump is running historically poorly among Hispanic voters, according to a new Washington Post-Univision national poll. Hillary Clinton is winning 67 percent of Hispanic voters, compared with just 19 percent for Trump
If Trump continues to get somewhere in the neighborhood of one of every five Hispanic votes, it would mark a new low for Republicans in that critical voting bloc. George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in his 2004 reelection race. John McCain got 31 percent in 2008. Mitt Romney took 27 percent in 2012. That’s, um, not a good trend.
Especially when every projection of where the country is headed shows the continuing decline of whites and the continued growth of the Hispanic population. According to projections by the Pew Research Center, whites will make up 46 percent of the U.S. population in 2065. Hispanics will be 24 percent at that time, while African Americans will make up 14 percent of the population. By comparison, 62 percent of the U.S. population in 2015 was white, while 18 percent was Hispanic and 12 percent was black.
Need a more real-world example? In 1984, Ronald Reagan won the white vote by 20 points — and the election with 525 electoral votes. In 2012, Romney matched Reagan’s margin among white voters; he won just 206 electoral votes. In 1984, 86 percent of all votes were cast by whites; that number dipped to 72 percent in 2012 — and is projected to drop to 70 percent (or maybe even lower) on Tuesday.
In the wake of that 2012 loss — and the demographic problems it portended — the Republican National Committee issued an autopsy report that had one central recommendation: Find a way to pass some sort of comprehensive immigration reform or else. It read (emphasis mine):
“We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.”
“Our party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.” Remember those words.
Instead of finding a way to get behind comprehensive reform, rank-and-file Republicans killed even the consideration of such a bill — even after it had passed the Senate. And then the party chose Trump as its presidential nominee.
That’s the same Trump who rose to prominence within the Republican Party on a pledge to build a wall on our southern border and make Mexico pay for it. And the same candidate who has openly embraced the sort of grievance politics that led him to, among other things, question whether a judge of Mexican heritage was fit to oversee a case regarding Trump University and to propose a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country.
In short: It’s hard to conceive of a candidate who would run more contrary to the party’s stated goal of expanding its coalition than Trump. Actually, it’s not hard. It’s impossible.
What Republican strategists are desperately hoping is that Hispanics will view Trump as an outlier, an isolated case who does not represent the broader views of the GOP. Again, the Post-Univision poll suggests that may be a false hope.
Seventy-six percent of likely Hispanic voters have an unfavorable view of Trump; 66 percent hold that same unfavorable view of the broader Republican Party. Those numbers compare horribly with the way Latino voters regard the Democratic Party: 71 percent have a favorable opinion, compared with 24 percent who have a negative one.
Yes, Hispanics view Trump more unfavorably than they view the Republican Party as a whole. But two-thirds of Hispanic voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party, and that is still disastrously bad. Those numbers suggest that Trump is not being viewed as something separate from the GOP and that the negative way Hispanics view him is rubbing off on the party he represents.
To go back to where I started: Yes, it is still possible that Trump could win the 270 electoral votes he needs to be president on Tuesday. (The white vote will still make up about 7 in 10 voters in this election.)
But, win or lose, Trump has set back his party among Hispanic voters in ways that may well be irreversible in the near to medium term. The current composition of the Republican Party’s electorate is a winner for 1984. It’s a near-certain loser for 2024 and beyond.