Surg­ing His­panic vote spells trou­ble for Trump

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE - By An­dres Op­pen­heimer An­dres Op­pen­heimer is a Latin Amer­ica cor­re­spon­dent for the Mi­ami Her­ald, aop­pen­[email protected]­ami­her­ald.com.

An old joke among U.S. poll­sters is that the Latino vote is a sleep­ing gi­ant — and al­ways will be. But there are signs that we may see a His­panic vot­ing surge that could spell trou­ble for Pres­i­dent Trump’s re­elec­tion chances in the 2020 elec­tions.

A poll re­leased hours be­fore the Sept. 12 Demo­cratic de­bate in Hous­ton showed that Democrats would win Texas, a state that has voted Repub­li­can for nearly four decades, if the elec­tion were held now. And much of that could be due to the His­panic vote.

Forty-seven per­cent of Texas’ reg­is­tered vot­ers say they plan to vote for, or are lean­ing to vote for, who­ever wins the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, while 42% say they are likely to sup­port Pres­i­dent Trump, ac­cord­ing to the Univi­sion News poll.

Among His­pan­ics, who rep­re­sent about 40% of Texas’ pop­u­la­tion and 24% of the state’s reg­is­tered vot­ers, 69% say they will vote Demo­crat.

The big ques­tion, of course, is whether His­pan­ics will turn out to vote, or whether they’ll stay at home like they have done so many times in the past. De­spite be­ing the largest mi­nor­ity in the coun­try, Lati­nos have tra­di­tion­ally voted in fewer num­bers than white or African Amer­i­can vot­ers.

Among the signs that things may change in 2020 are the 2018 midterm elec­tions, in which Lati­nos turned out to vote in record num­bers, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Pew Re­search Cen­ter study.

Latino voter turnout na­tion­wide reached a record 40% in 2018, the Pew study re­vealed. The num­ber of Latino vot­ers nearly dou­bled from 6.8 mil­lion in the 2014 midterm elec­tions to 11.7 mil­lion in the 2018 midterms. This trend is ex­pected to con­tinue in the 2020 elec­tions, poll­sters say.

“I can guar­an­tee you that the Latino vote will reach his­toric pro­por­tions in 2020,” said Fer­nand Amandi, head of the Bendixen and Amandi polling firm and a Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal ad­viser.

He cited the con­tin­ued growth of the His­panic pop­u­la­tion and the grow­ing re­sent­ment against Trump’s anti-im­mi­gra­tion cam­paign among Lati­nos. “This com­ing elec­tion won’t be about the Demo­cratic can­di­date, but about Trump, the most anti-Latino pres­i­dent in U.S. his­tory,” Amandi said.

In ad­di­tion, who­ever the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee is, he or she is un­likely to ne­glect the His­panic vote, or take it for granted, like Hil­lary Clin­ton did in 2016, poll­sters say. Like many of us in the me­dia can at­test, Clin­ton did far less to reach out to His­pan­ics than for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.

The con­sen­sus among poll­sters is that the 2020 elec­tions will de­pend largely on the out­come of the vote in a hand­ful of states, in­clud­ing Penn­syl­va­nia, Michi­gan, Wis­con­sin, Florida and Ari­zona, and per­haps even Ge­or­gia and Texas.

In his new book “RIP GOP,” well­known Demo­cratic poll­ster Stanley Green­berg, who was the poll­ster for Bill Clin­ton, fore­sees a “blue wave” in 2020. In an in­ter­view, he told me that the His­panic vote is likely to be crit­i­cal in that out­come along­side that of mil­len­ni­als, sin­gle women, sub­ur­ban and black vot­ers.

In­ter­est­ingly, Green­berg says we may see a na­tional phe­nom­e­non akin to what we saw in Cal­i­for­nia in the 1990s. Cal­i­for­nia had long been a solid Repub­li­can state un­til Re­pub­li­cans started push­ing for Res­o­lu­tion 187, which sought to make life im­pos­si­ble for Mex­i­can im­mi­grants. That cre­ated a huge coun­ter­re­ac­tion that turned the state Demo­cratic.

A sim­i­lar trend may lead to a na­tion­wide “blue wave” in 2020, Green­berg says. “Vot­ers have be­come more pro-im­mi­gra­tion as Trump has be­come more vir­u­lent in his at­tacks on im­mi­grants,” he told me.

Granted, poll­sters were wrong in 2016: They rightly pre­dicted Democrats would win the pop­u­lar vote but failed to fore­cast that they would lose the Elec­toral Col­lege. And there are sev­eral things that could help Trump be re­elected, such as a ro­bust U.S. econ­omy at elec­tion time, or a so­cial­ist Demo­cratic can­di­date such as Bernie San­ders. If ei­ther of th­ese two things hap­pen, I think Trump has a good chance of win­ning.

But there are grow­ing doubts about whether the econ­omy will keep grow­ing at its re­cent pace, and it’s hard to imag­ine that Democrats will be so stupid as to pick San­ders as their nom­i­nee. So I’m not as con­vinced as I was that Trump will win. Maybe the poll­sters will be right this time.

THE MORN­ING CALL

Vol­un­teer Yadira Gar­cia signs up His­panic vot­ers.

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