President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The Atlantic’s Kristian Ramos is most definitely not a Trump supporter. Although, according to Ramos, President Trump has “done almost everything he can to anger Latino voters,” his support among this demographic has remained steady.
Exit polls taken during the 2016 election indicated that Trump received 28% of the Latino vote. Ramos points out that currently, that figure is at 30%.
Ramos writes that, having worked at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during the Obama administration, he is “firmly aware of the power of the Latino vote” and has been “watching these numbers with alarm.” A 2% increase in support is more significant that it appears.
In 2016, Ramos points out, Democrats received 66% of the Latino vote. Currently, Latino support for the Democratic candidates is at 65%, a one point drop. Ramos says that, based on his calculations, “Democrats need about 70 percent of this vote” to win in November. He writes:
When Democrats reach out to Latino voters, they are too focused on immigration, and say too little about other issues these voters prioritize. If they want to win over enough Latino votes to retake the White House, Democrats must continue to fight for the immigrant community, but they must also offer a positive, aspirational narrative that embraces Latinos as a vibrant part of America.
In an election that will likely come down to the smallest margins of victory, the consistent support for Trump from a small, but vocal, subset of Latino voters is a real threat to Democrats. If unchanged, this dynamic could have devastating repercussions for Latinos, and for the country as a whole.
The president’s treatment of immigrants at the border is inhumane and wildly unpopular with Latinos. And yet, his support among this voting bloc is not cratering. In fact, he enjoys more support from this electorate than Mitt Romney did in 2012, and about the same level that John McCain did in 2008.
Being able to provide for one’s family is one of the main reasons many people—from any country—immigrate to the United States, so the fact that Trump’s rhetoric on a growing economy has found an audience is not surprising. In Florida, for example, a poll by Equis Research showed that 57 percent of Latinos supported the way the president handled the economy. If you look at only Cuban voters from the state, that number jumps to 71 percent.
He emphasizes that Latinos are not “one monolithic voting bloc.”
Differences in political views among Latino-Americans vary from one state to the next and also depend upon how many generations one’s family has lived in the U.S. Many third and fourth generation Latinos no longer identify as Latino. Generally, the longer one lives in America, the less of an issue immigration will be for them.
Contrary to what many Democrats believe, not all Latino-Americans favor open borders. Recently, a Latino Trump supporter told The New York Times, “We need to take care of the people who are already here.”
The Democratic Party has not only done an excellent job of highlighting the atrocious immigration record of the Trump administration; it also offers a strong platform and record on the economy, health care, and education, the issues about which these voters care most. However, Democrats don’t do enough to speak directly to Latino voters about these issues, even though the Latino unemployment rate declined more than 7 percent under the previous administration and the Affordable Care Act has tremendously benefited the community.
I think Ramos is giving a bit too much credit to Obama, as Democrats often do, for the decline in the Latino unemployment rate. Unemployment rates across all demographics peaked in 2010 and decreased slowly as the U.S. pulled out of one of the most severe recessions in decades. President Trump is responsible for jump starting a sluggish economy which drove unemployment down to record lows, across all demographics. And his support comes from those Latinos who are willing to acknowledge that.
It also seems to me that Democrats have generally taken the Latino vote for granted, as they have the African-American vote. The Trump team has recognized this and has made an effort to reach out to both groups.
I would also venture to guess that Trump’s support among Latinos and African-Americans is even stronger than the figures cited above indicate – both the exit poll results and the current level of support. Polls usually underestimate support for Trump. I recall doing a comparison between the final poll averages by state and the actual election results. In each case, Trump outperformed the expected results. In most cases, the difference was around 2%. In some cases, it was as high as 4 or 5%. That was not so for Mrs. Clinton.
As a Trump supporter, I find it encouraging that Ramos has been “watching these numbers with alarm” and I believe that the “real” numbers are even more alarming than he thinks.