PoliZette

Trump May Yet Claim Latinos

His immigration rhetoric was tough, but Hispanics aren't hostile to his ideas

Polls refute some of the recent vocal messaging by Latino activists that tightening our immigration laws and cracking down on those who have broken them will push away Hispanic voters in a presidential contest.

Donald Trump, the current object of the activists’ ire, earned 31 percent of Hispanic support in a SurveyUSA poll — actually outpacing the Latino support garnered by Mitt Romney and George H.W. Bush.

Related: Trump’s Greatest Asset: His Kids

What’s more, 67 percent of Latino voters told Gallup in August that they’d back a candidate who didn’t share their own immigration views. In the same poll, 18 percent of those registered voters said a candidate’s immigration platform wasn’t foremost on their minds.

The polling seems to suggest that many Hispanics want new immigrants to follow the law. Gallup noted that only 34 percent of Hispanics born in the U.S. and 33 percent of those born outside our borders approved increasing legal immigration. And 64 percent of both groups want immigration to be cut back, or at least leveled off.

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Just last week, a number of Hispanic groups spoke out ahead of the CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado, to say they were putting candidates on notice that Trump’s early campaign rhetoric — seeking mass deportations and a wall to keep out illegals (as well as calling some illegal aliens criminals and rapists) — would not be tolerated.

Latinos are not one-issue voters, and they have much diversity within their ranks — both culturally and intellectually.

“We’ve called for candidates to be constructive,” said the coalition’s leader, Alfonso Aguilar, who serves as executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

Immigration, which he calls a “gateway issue,” looms large for Republicans looking to expand their base, lest they continue to preach to “an ever-shrinking choir.”

“Until we resolve the immigration issue, Hispanics will continue, by large numbers, to vote for the Democrats,” Aguilar said.

But as a group, Latinos are not one-issue voters, and they have much diversity within their ranks — both culturally and intellectually.

Noted Pew Research: “Despite the renewed focus on immigration, it’s worth keeping in mind that immigration has not ranked high in our annual poll on the issues Americans see as a top priority for the president and Congress. Even among Hispanics, immigration has not been a top priority; a 2014 survey found that Hispanics rated education (92 percent), jobs and the economy (91 percent), and health care (86 percent) as extremely or very important issues, but fewer said the same about immigration (73 percent).”

Trump continues to lead in the Hispanic stronghold of Florida, where his 27 percent bests native son Sen. Marco Rubio (16 percent) as well as former Gov. Jeb Bush (12 percent) among likely Republican voters, according to a Viewpoint Florida poll released Monday.

K.B. Forbes, a consultant and executive director of Consejo de Latinos Unidos, said Trump has been right to point out the hypocrisy that nothing has been done to address the problems with immigration as business quietly supports the cheap labor. But with his divisive rhetoric, he “packaged his message all wrong.”