Over the weekend, Politico Magazine published a piece that suggested that fate of the next presidential election may very well be decided by Hispanic voters.
Citing a poll conducted and released last month by NPR, PBS NewsHour, and Marist College, Politico noted that despite the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic rhetoric, 50% of Latino registered voters actually approved of President Trump’s work in office. Even non-Hispanic whites gave him a lower approval rating than that, with about 40% approving of his presidency.
The poll wasn’t a particularly large one — it surveyed nearly 1,000 Americans — and as a sort of contradiction, 58% of the same Latino voters indicated that they definitely are planning to vote against him; however, the figures illustrate that its quite possible for Latinos to decide whether America gets four more years of Trump or a Democratic repudiation of his time in the Oval Office. After all, Hispanic Americans will be the largest non-white demographic by the 2020 election and are expected to make up over 11% of the national vote.
One fact that should be obvious is that Latinos don’t vote as a homogenous group, so it’s hardly a foregone conclusion that the Hispanic-American community will support a Democratic candidate.
Many publications have pointed out that Hispanic voters don’t act as a “monolith.” For example, older Cuban-Americans tend to eschew legislation branded as “socialist” while naturalized immigrants from Central America tend to support legislators that appear immigration-friendly. Consider also that Catholic Hispanic voters hold socially conservative views, while the younger generation of voters have been more open to embracing progressive, Latinx identities and issues.
CNBC compared figures from past presidential elections that perhaps indicates that the community is becoming less liberal in its political leanings. President Bill Clinton got 72% of the “Hispanic vote” in his second term, while Barack Obama got 71% in his. Hillary Clinton only managed to get 66 percent of the vote.
Democrats Need to Come Through for Latinos
The Democratic nominee will not be able to rely upon immigration rights if they hope to win the support of a broad base of Hispanic-Americans. The New York Times found that job creation, wage growth, and the cost of health care were equally as important to a Latino group polled in California last fall; only 13% felt that ousting Trump was a key issue for the community. Political analysts look to the past midterm election in Florida as a case study for what went wrong, since the Hispanic community in Florida represents a more diverse makeup of Latinos than in other states.
The key to getting the Hispanic vote in the next election? Just show up. “You can’t just show up in campaign mode; you’ve got to be present all the time,” said Annette Taddeo in another article from Politico. Taddeo is a Florida State Senator who represents part of Miami-Dade county. She brought up the fact that she frequently is one of the few Democratic congresspeople to attend events that would be relevant to her Latino constituents, while Senator Rick Scott, who edged out his Democratic opponent Bill Nelson in the midterms, has consistently shown face. “He gets that it’s not just about policies and issues. It’s about being there.”