Latino voters will make up an increasing share of the electorate in 2020 and, while they predominantly support Democrats over Trump, there is a significant amount of work to be done. Health care and immigration are the top issues for Latino voters in Florida, Arizona and Nevada, but Democrats must conduct significant outreach to engage voters on the specifics of Trump’s policies to fully take advantage of the salience of the messages available to us, particularly on economic issues. While views on the strength of the economy are generally positive, a majority of voters surveyed in all three states said they do not believe they benefit personally from Trump’s economic policies.
Trump’s immigration policies are deeply unpopular with the Latino communities in these states, and can be seen as emblematic of his larger racist and divisive message that, not surprisingly, is toxic with Latino voters.
While the effectiveness of health care and other economic messages are similarly strong among Latino voters as across all battleground voters, it is a strategic imperative to make the messaging and creative culturally competent and relatable to the diversity of experiences within the Latino community.
Key Research Findings
- Democrats enjoy a substantial lead over Trump with Latino voters, but that support is somewhat soft, with one-third falling into the lean or undecided categories.
- Opposition to Trump’s immigration policies and worry about health care costs are clear issue priorities. Voters also express worry about personal economic circumstances when asked in very specific terms.
- Messaging on Medicare and Social Security, health care affordability, and prioritizing working families resonated most across groups. In Arizona, immigration and standing up for the Latino community against Trump’s attacks were especially powerful with key segments (Democrats, men, naturalized citizens). In Florida, Hurricane Maria was a strong motivator among Democrats, Puerto Ricans, and younger voters.
- While most are hesitant to say they would consider supporting Trump, those that do feel that protecting jobs and the economy are the top reasons they might consider voting for him. At a personal level, few believe they benefited from Trump’s tax and economic policies.
- In Florida, Puerto Rican and South American voters are very similar in terms of their opposition to Trump (over 60% disapprove and plan to vote Democrat), issue priorities, and response to various messages. Cuban origin voters in Florida are a consistent outlier, the only Trump-friendly segment: 43% certain Trump, and 11% lean Trump. Still, 41% of Cubans in Florida are planning to vote for the Democrat in 2020, and another 5% are undecided.
Going into the 2020 election, few Latino voters approve of Trump (20% Arizona, 26% Nevada, and 42% in Florida), and Democrats enjoy +20-point overall polling leads in all three states. His base (“certain Trump”) is significantly smaller than the yet-to-be determined 2020 Democratic candidate in all states and nearly all segments; Cuban origin Latinos in Florida are the sole Trump-friendly group.
A significant share of the Democratic lead (20% or more in each state) falls in the “lean Democratic candidate” column; an important distinction. It is essential that the softer Democratic supporters are targeted with messages that solidify their support.
Immigration and health care costs are the most pressing concerns cited among Latino voters in all three states.
Most important issue want president to address (up to two issues cited)
Message testing found that protecting Medicare and Social Security were especially important and motivating across all states and population segments, as were other messages that focused on economic issues.
Immigration and Standing Up for the Latino Community
Immigration resonates at a visceral level with voters even though they are not under threat of immigration detention or deportation. By definition these are American citizens, but their increasing experiences with discrimination and hostility have made these voters much more sensitive to immigration.
Among those citing immigration as a priority concern, the majority oppose Trump’s immigration policies (65% Florida, 77% Arizona, and 73% Nevada) and are specifically worried about immigrant children detained or abused at border area facilities. In addition to concerns about kids at the border, Latino voters also cited Trump’s racist rhetoric about immigrants and not wanting a border wall as their top immigration-specific concerns.
In Arizona, messaging on immigration was especially motivating. “Standing up for Latinos and the immigrant community against Trump’s attacks” was the top or near the top reason to vote in Arizona for Democrats, men, 18-39-year olds, and naturalized citizens.
The full memo is below: