By Matt Barreto
Given the growth in the Latino electorate, which is expected to surpass African Americans as the second largest group of voters in 2020, many polling organizations now report out subgroup results for “Hispanics.” They shouldn’t. Their sample sizes of Latino voters are woefully small, typically 80-150 in size, and their methodology continues to overly-sample more conservative and more acculturated Latinos who are more likely to be U.S. born, 3rd generation, English-dominant, college educated and live in the suburbs. We have proven this factually true in more than a dozen analysis of existing so-called “mainstream” polling when examining their Latino sample on closer inspection.
In order to get a more accurate understanding of the Latino electorate heading into the 2020 cycle, we can examine the April 2019 national survey of 606 Latino registered voters conducted in partnership with the NALEO Educational Fund. Not only is there a large and robust sample, but it is demographically reflective of the true underlying Latino population with the correct proportion of immigrants, 2nd and 3rd generation, Spanish-dominant, bilingual and English-dominant voters, and does not oversample acculturated suburban-dwelling households, but at the same time does not undersample them. Instead, based on both the underlying sample, and the post-stratification weights, it is an accurate portrait of the national Latino electorate.
So what do Latinos think of the Trump administration and national politics five months after the historic midterm elections of 2018? Overwhelmingly, Latino voters remain angry, frustrated and feel disrespected by Trump and the Republican Party as a whole.
Exhibit A: The Republican Party is now seen as openly hostile towards Latinos. A majority of Latinos now believe the Republican Party is being hostile towards the Latino community. In 2012 when Mitt Romney was the nominee, 56% of Latinos said Romney does not really care about the Latino community while 18% described him as “hostile” towards Latinos. In 2019 those numbers have changed significantly, with 51% now saying Trump and the GOP are hostile towards the Latino community and an additional 29% stating Trump and the GOP don’t really care about Latinos. Taken together, that is 80% of Latino registered voters who think Trump and the GOP don’t care or are hostile towards Latino interests.
Exhibit B: Access to health care remains the number one policy issue and Trump is trying to end Obamacare. When asked to choose the top policy priority for their community, the top issue was lowering the cost of health care, cited by 37%. This is consistent with polling during the 2018 midterms which found increasing access to affordable health care the top pocketbook issue facing Latino families. Latinos made major gains in access to health insurance under Obamacare, but still, Latinos have the highest rates of being uninsured or underinsured of any racial group in the U.S. Now, the Trump Department of Justice wants to stop defending Obamacare altogether in lawsuits. When asked if they agree or disagree, a strong majority of Latino voters (72%) said they disagree with the Trump DOJ decision to stop defending Obamacare in the courts.
Exhibit C: Trump’s decision to continue bashing immigrants is seen as racist and strongly rejected. Immigrant bashing started on the Trump campaign trail in 2015 and resurfaced as the primary campaign issue for Republicans in 2018, and now in 2019 Trump and Republicans have not let up in their attacks, especially those targeting Central American migrants. In addition, Trump’s delusional quest for his mythical border wall with Mexico continually turns off Latinos. Overall, 33% of Latinos cited protecting immigrant rights or stopping racism against immigrants as their number one issue, surpassed only by lowering the costs of health care (37%). When asked about the bipartisan legislation in Congress which blocked Trump’s national emergency spending spree on the border wall versus Trump’s veto, fully 82% of Latinos said Congress was right to block Trump from redirecting federal money for his wall. When asked about asylum policy at the Southern border, 77% of Latino voters said the Central American migrants are not a security threat and should be allowed to apply for asylum. Finally, when asked about the rise in racism, the poll found that 81% stated that racism against immigrants and Latinos in general was a problem in the U.S. today.
If Trump and Republicans continue on this path of bashing immigrants, using racist rhetoric to describe migrant families, as well as disparaging border cities, they will continue to alienate the average Latino voter who is sick and tired of being the target of scapegoating, stereotyping and immoral immigration policies. What’s more, on the policy issue most important to Latino voters —access to affordable health care— Trump and Republicans appear to be on a path towards repealing Obamacare through the courts, and not introducing any legislation or policy solutions at all. Looking ahead to 2020, it is quite likely that the lessons of 2018 will repeat themselves with an angry, energized, mobilized and Democratic-leaning Latino electorate.