By David R. Ayón
Exactly seven weeks prior to the November midterm elections, the NALEO Educational Fund highlighted striking new results from the third week of its tracking poll of Latino registered voters, conducted in collaboration with Latino Decisions. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund and LD broke new ground in the rolling ten-week poll that will continue through November, casting a stark spotlight on Latino views of President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation, even as it found movement toward more defined issue priorities of greatest concern, and as media attention turned to the allegation of past sexual assault by the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
The dramatic finding of the most recent survey of 500 registered Latino voters is that although just half (49%) say the investigation into potential collusion by the Trump campaign with Russian intervention in the 2016 election (and Trump’s response to it) is fair —and 25% called it unfair— clear majorities say the president has tried to obstruct the investigation, should be interviewed by the Special Counsel, and should resign from the presidency if either Trump or his campaign are found to have directly colluded with the Russian intervention in the last presidential election.
Although Trump and Congressional Republicans continued to be viewed unfavorably by majorities of Latino voters, the period of three weeks into the fall campaign also shows movement towards firmer Latino issue priorities in the midterms on immigrant rights, economic concerns and immigration over a more general priority of stopping Trump and the Republican agenda. Asked to select two priorities from a list of seventeen issues, the proportion of Latino voters picking the protection of immigrant rights has risen from 17% to 27%, improving wages and incomes from 12% to 26%, creating more jobs from 13% to 21%, and improving K-12 education and schools from 10% to 15%, while stopping Trump and the Republican agenda declined as a top-two choice from 22% to 17% (all statistically significant changes in a poll with a 4.4% margin of error).
Perhaps the most notable finding of continuity is that the majority —60%— of Latino voters who say they have not been contacted by a party, campaign or other organization and urged to register or to vote. Internally, however, the poll found a shift among those who say they have been contacted, narrowing the gap between the Democratic and Republican Party sides. While the first week of polling showed the Democrats holding a 2:1 lead over the Republicans in Latino voter contact (54% to 27%), week three found that margin had declined to 11 points—48% to 37%.
Both parties have advanced in making clear to Latino voters what they and their candidates stand for in this election cycle, but the Republican advance has been significantly greater than that of the Democrats, consistent with the finding of a narrowing partisan gap in voter contact. While the proportion who say that the Democrats have made what they stand for clear increased over the three weeks, from 58% to 63%, the Republicans advanced from 39% to 49%.
By aggregating the three weeks of interviews, our polling finds that internally among Latino voters only Cuban Americans have a favorable view of the president, at 57%. Nevertheless, 47% of Cuban Americans say they plan to vote for Democratic candidates for Congress, over 42% who say they will vote for Republican candidates.
David R. Ayón is Senior Strategist and Advisor at Latino Decisions. His most recent book, Power Shift: How Latinos in California Transformed Politics in America was published in August 2018.