How many bad moments has Donald Trump had with Hispanic voters? From Mexican rapists to build-a-wall to Judge Gonzalo Curiel, many Republican insiders view Trump as a one-man wrecking crew, a disaster of unprecedented proportions, when it comes to the GOP’s outreach to Latinos.
Perhaps. But right now, after all the problems Trump has had with Hispanic voters, a new poll shows him performing at roughly the recent Republican norm ??? and no worse than the last two GOP presidential nominees.
A new poll from Pew Research Center found Hillary Clinton with a whopping 42-point lead over Trump among Hispanic registered voters, 66 percent to 24 percent. It’s a grim number for Republicans ??? but actually a little less than the 48-point lead Barack Obama had over Mitt Romney in Pew polling from October 2012, and also less than the 43-point lead Obama had over comprehensive immigration reform champion John McCain in July 2008.
Romney went on to lose to Obama by 44 points (71 percent to 27 percent) among Hispanic voters in 2012, and McCain lost by 36 points (67 percent to 31 percent) among Hispanics in 2008.
In the new survey, Clinton leads Trump among Hispanic registered voters on all issues. Just as with overall electorate, Trump performs best on the questions of which candidate will do a better job dealing with the economy and which will do a better job keeping the country safe from terrorist attack. On those issues, Clinton has a 18- and 17-point lead, respectively. Given the realities of this race, that’s close.
On which candidate will better deal with immigration, Clinton has a 48-point lead, 70 percent to 22 percent.
One fascinating note in the Pew survey. Pollsters found that about 57 percent of Latino registered voters are either bilingual or more proficient in Spanish than in English. Forty-three percent are more proficient in English than in Spanish. Among the bilingual and Spanish-dominant group, Clinton has a huge lead, 80 percent to 11 percent. Among the English-dominant group, it’s a genuinely close race ??? 48 percent for Clinton to 41 percent for Trump. After all that has happened, Trump polls as well or better with English-dominant Hispanic voters than with the electorate as a whole.
“For all the bellyaching by GOP party elites, Trump is roughly where Romney was in 2012 and McCain was in 2008 among Hispanic voters,” said Kellyanne Conway, the respected Republican pollster who has recently joined the Trump campaign as a senior adviser, in an email exchange.
“In polling, Hispanics are attracted to Mr. Trump’s policies on economic growth, job creation, national security and school choice/charters,” Conway continued. “This could be especially key in states like Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona. Additionally, the states that witnessed the fastest-growing Hispanic populations in the past decade-plus are largely in the South, several of which are swing states in 2016 (Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina).”
So what does it all mean? Of course, from the standpoint of the GOP’s loss in 2012, the whole idea for 2016 was to do better with Hispanic voters. Trump isn’t doing that, or he’s just barely doing it. But it’s impossible to say whether any other candidate in the 2016 field, including Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, would be doing appreciably better. The Republican Party’s problems with Hispanic voters pre-date Trump, and may be more consequential to the party’s standing with those voters than anything Trump has done so far.