His­panic bloc proved to be not cru­cial in Trump win

In­creased turnout may harm 2020 re-elec­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

His­pan­ics, who for more than a decade in­sisted they were the key to Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, are now grap­pling with a life on the out­side — stunned that a Repub­li­can man­aged to cap­ture the White House with­out win­ning at least a third of their sup­port.

Im­mi­grant rights ad­vo­cates in­sist that Lati­nos did turn out in record numbers, and say they voted over­whelm­ingly for Hil­lary Clin­ton, doubt­ing ma­jor me­dia exit polls that showed Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump cap­tured some 29 per­cent na­tion­ally.

But that leaves an­other co­nun­drum: If Repub­li­cans can win with­out His­panic sup­port, that could sap the ne­go­ti­at­ing power Lati­nos have claimed on is­sues such as im­mi­gra­tion.

“Ei­ther con­clu­sion is con­trary to the nar­ra­tive that they and their sur­ro­gates in the me­dia have been telling us for the last decade,” said Steven A. Ca­marota, a de­mog­ra­pher and re­search direc­tor at the Center for Im­mi­gra­tion Stud­ies, which ad­vo­cates for a crack­down on im­mi­gra­tion.

Dat­ing back to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s win in 2004, when he cap­tured some 40 per­cent of the His­panic vote, po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts have said that’s the bench­mark for the ex­pand­ing pop­u­la­tion. A grow­ing Latino pop­u­la­tion and a shrink­ing white pop­u­la­tion meant that Repub­li­cans needed to at least match

Mr. Bush’s 40 per­cent to be com­pet­i­tive in na­tional races go­ing for­ward.

That ap­peared to be the case in 2008 and 2012, when GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees John McCain and Mitt Rom­ney stum­bled to de­feat with poor show­ings among His­pan­ics — 31 per­cent and 27 per­cent, re­spec­tively — ac­cord­ing to the exit polls.

An­a­lysts dubbed it the “Repub­li­can prob­lem” with His­panic vot­ers, and the Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee’s elec­tion post-mortem re­port in 2012 rec­om­mended the party em­brace le­gal­iza­tion of il­le­gal im­mi­grants, say­ing it was the only way to cap­ture the hearts of Lati­nos and be com­pet­i­tive.

Mr. Trump proved them wrong, run­ning the most stri­dent anti-il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion cam­paign in mod­ern po­lit­i­cal his­tory. That mes­sage, cou­pled with a fierce cri­tique of free trade deals, en­er­gized vot­ers in Rust Belt and Mid­west states and poked a hole in Democrats’ fire­wall.

He’s pro­jected to gain a healthy 306-232 mar­gin in the Elec­toral Col­lege — and though he lost the pop­u­lar vote, an­a­lysts said he showed the GOP a path to vic­tory that didn’t in­volve max­i­miz­ing His­panic vot­ers’ sup­port.

Ac­cord­ing to The New York Times’ pub­lished exit polls, Mr. Trump won 29 per­cent of His­pan­ics on Elec­tion Day — in be­tween what Mr. Rom­ney and Mr. McCain re­ceived. Not ev­ery­one agrees. A sep­a­rate elec­tion-eve poll by Latino De­ci­sions, a firm that spe­cial­izes in His­panic polling and has close ties to Democrats and im­mi­grant rights groups, said just 18 per­cent of likely vot­ers from the com­mu­nity were back­ing Mr. Trump.

Matt A. Bar­reto, one of the founders of Latino De­ci­sions, said the ev­i­dence for Mr. Trump’s poor show­ing isn’t just his polling. He pointed to a se­ries of heav­ily His­panic coun­ties and vot­ing precincts that went over­whelm­ingly for Mrs. Clin­ton in the elec­tion, and said it’s doubt­ful those kinds of places were ac­counted for in the exit polling, which could have skewed the exit poll re­sults.

If Latino De­ci­sions’ numbers are cor­rect, it means Mr. Trump man­aged to win while get­ting less than half of the 40 per­cent tar­get an­a­lysts had said was the floor for His­panic sup­port.

Those on each side of the de­bate crit­i­cize the method­ol­ogy of the other, and more com­plete re­port­ing will come over the next few months with precinct-level turnout data and Cen­sus Bureau statis­tics.

Frank Sharry, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Amer­ica’s Voice, a lead­ing ad­vo­cacy that has part­nered with Latino De­ci­sions, warned Repub­li­cans not to bank on a re­peat, say­ing Mr. Trump is the ex­cep­tion.

“Trump was a unique can­di­date, Clin­ton did not bring out Democrats the way Obama had, and he threaded the nee­dle,” Mr. Sharry said. “If one as­sumes that Trump runs for re-elec­tion in 2020, I think he’s go­ing to have a very dif­fi­cult time re­peat­ing the mir­a­cle. And it was a mir­a­cle.”

Whit Ayres, a Repub­li­can poll­ster, reached a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion, say­ing the de­mo­graph­ics still look grim for Repub­li­cans if they can’t do bet­ter among His­pan­ics. He pointed to Florida, where Sen. Marco Ru­bio, a Repub­li­can, cruised to re-elec­tion by 8 per­cent­age points, while Mr. Trump won the state by 1 point.

Mr. Ayres, writ­ing for U.S. News & World Re­port, said Mr. Trump should take ad­van­tage of a “Nixon goes to China” op­por­tu­nity by re­vers­ing him­self and le­gal­iz­ing il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

“Do­ing so would cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity for fu­ture Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nees to achieve Ge­orge W. Bush-like sup­port among His­pan­ics, the largest swing voter group in the New Amer­ica,” the poll­ster con­cluded.

Mr. Sharry said that if Democrats had held their own in the Mid­west and Rust Belt, the story of the elec­tion would have been how Lati­nos pow­ered Mrs. Clin­ton to vic­tory by help­ing her keep Colorado, Ne­vada and Vir­ginia blue.

“The talk of the Latino surge was real. Lati­nos did turn out in record numbers,” he said, pre­dict­ing that, if trends, con­tinue, His­pan­ics will make Ari­zona and Texas — two long­time GOP strongholds — com­pet­i­tive in fu­ture elec­tions.

Mr. Ca­marota, how­ever, said if the exit polls are right, this year’s elec­tion sug­gests Repub­li­cans can win nearly 30 per­cent of Latino sup­port while tak­ing a strict stance on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, punc­tur­ing the con­ven­tional wis­dom that His­pan­ics are largely sin­gle-is­sue vot­ers.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

De­spite win­ning only a third of His­pan­ics, Don­ald Trump still emerged vic­to­ri­ous, how­ever, his chances may dim for a re­peat in 2020 as Latino vot­ers in­crease in GOP strong­hold bor­der states like Texas and Ari­zona.

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