The Republican presidential nominee will need as many as 40 percent of Latino voters in some states to clinch a win in November. But ever since Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump built his campaign on promises to deport the country’s 11.3 million undocumented population and claims of Mexican immigrant rapists and drug dealers, his unpopularity has soared among Latinos.
And now there’s evidence that Latino voters may be “enthusiastic” to hit the polls in November to defeat Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino agenda.
A national poll released Thursday by America’s Voice and Latino Decisions found that 79 percent of voters had a “very unfavorable” opinion of Trump, with a total of 87 percent of Latinos finding him generally unfavorable. When asked about Trump’s policy plan to deport the country’s 11.3 million undocumented population, 80 percent of Latino voters indicated that they were “much less likely to vote for Trump,” with a total of 87 percent of voters less likely to vote for Trump generally.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), another Republican presidential candidate who endorses deporting the country’s undocumented population, followed behind with a 34 percent “very unfavorable” rating among Latino voters, with a total of 52 percent unfavorable rating. Even when voters were told that Cruz supports deporting the country’s undocumented population, 61 percent of Latino voters were “much less likely to vote for Cruz,” with a total of 74 percent of voters less likely to vote for him generally.
Of the poll respondents, 35 percent stated that they knew someone who had been deported or detained for immigration reasons.
The difference in how Latino voters view Cruz and Trump’s endorsement for deportation is somewhat surprising given that Trump once promised to let the “really good” undocumented immigrants back into the country. Cruz has given no such leeway for re-entry, stating that he would send federal immigration authorities to look for undocumented immigrants. For his part, Trump has suggested using a deportation force to seek out the undocumented population.
Cruz told a young undocumented immigrant to her face that he would deport people like her earlier this year. When confronted by undocumented immigrants in 2013, Trump allegedly told them that they had “convinced” him.
Immigration reform topped the list of the most important issues facing the Latino community, but for the first time ever, “anti-Latino/immigrant discrimination/race relations” issues ranked as the fourth-highest concern.
“That’s something we’ve never seen before,” Dr. Sylvia Manzano, principal at Latino Decisions, said on a press conference call before explaining that other issues like health care or education generally tend to be among the highest-ranked concerns.
But the topic of immigration “tends to spike to first when the community feels under attack or when there’s a policy issue that’s on the table that’s being debated by Congress or opposed to for a vote. Given the current climate, it’s not a surprise that it ranked first,” Manzano said.
In an open-ended question about why voters were enthusiastic to vote this year, the poll found that 41 percent wanted to fight “against/stop Trump/fight back anti-immigrant/Latino.” Only three percent noted that they were enthusiastic because they were hoping to be “against/stop Cruz.”
“Four out of ten people gave some iteration that ‘Trump is attacking my community,’” Manzano said. “That motivation to turn out and that factor making people turn out really eclipses other reasons people talked about being enthusiastic in this contest and what differentiates it from prior ones.”
The poll surveyed 2,200 Latino voters nationwide.
As Trump continues to infuse more anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric into his speeches, it seems likely he’ll continue to bleed support from Latino voters. A previous Latino Decisions poll with a smaller sample size from November 2015 found 71 percent of Latino voters had unfavorable opinions of Trump, showing a leap of 16 percentage points between November and the latest polling.
What’s more, a Public Religion Research Institute report found that even young Republicans disagree with Trump’s views on immigration — more than half believe that “the increasing number of newcomers to the country strengthens American culture and way of life.”
“Immigration is going to be a party-defining issue,” Manzano said.