By Daniel Ducassi
April 22, 2016
Donald Trump's controversial views on immigration have taken their toll on Latino support for the Republican Party in Florida and could have a profound impact on down-ballot candidates this fall, according to a poll of 400 registered Latino voters released on Friday by Latino Decisions, a public opinion research group.
Eighty-four percent of Latino voters in Florida have an unfavorable view of Trump, the poll found. Two in three said they are less likely to vote Republican in November because of Trump’s views on immigration, and nearly three in five said they are much less likely. Some 56 percent of Cuban-Americans polled said they were much less likely to vote for Republicans this year because of Trump.
Almost half of respondents said the party has become more hostile to Latinos. Thirty percent said the reason they are most enthusiastic about voting this year is because of the potential opportunity to vote against Trump.
“People feel that they’re not wanted in the party,” said Latino Decisions researcher Sylvia Manzano, who directed the polling.
Overall, she said, a number of key Republican constituencies are finding themselves more and more alienated by the party, including self-identified Republicans, older Latinos and one of the GOP’s the most reliable groups of Latinos: Cuban Americans.
That dislike of Trump among Cuban Americans could have big consequences in November if Trump is the Republican nominee.
Florida’s Cuban Americans, 82 percent of whom view Trump unfavorably according to the poll, have a dominant political presence in South Florida, one that Republicans have depended on to counter the large numbers of Democrats in the region. But changing demographics — and Trump’s controversial candidacy — could shift the tides this cycle, with 47 percent of Cuban Americans saying they will certainly support Hillary Clinton over Trump, who garnered certain support from only 15 percent and another 12 percent who say they might vote for him. Forty six percent were certain they would support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Trump, and both Democratic candidates enjoyed strong majority support among Latino voters in Florida overall.
Prominent Republican Cuban American politicians, including U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, have been vocal in their criticism of Trump.
Curbelo, in particular, has slammed Trump's comments about immigrants and Muslims, and vowed not to vote for him even if he wins the nomination.
The party itself didn’t get high marks from Cuban Americans either. One in three said the party doesn’t care very much about the Latino community and one in four said the party was outright hostile to the Latino community, about the same number who said the party truly cares. There were similar, if slightly worse, numbers overall.
What kind of down ballot effect Trump will have isn’t certain, especially if one of the Cuban Americans running for the GOP Senate nomination prevails. But 58 percent of Florida Latino voters overall said they were much less likely to vote for Republicans in November.
Trump did perform slightly better among Latino voters in Florida than elsewhere, garnering 12 percent approval, 4 percent higher than nationally.
Ted Cruz is doing better than Trump among his fellow Cuban Americans. He has twice as much support overall, but still trails Clinton and Sanders.
Manzano said the lack of strong support for either candidate is a contrast with the excitement that surrounded Marco Rubio’s candidacy, particularly in the Cuban American community. (Rubio has since dropped out of the race.)
It should be noted that two of the group’s researchers were hired in August as consultants for Clinton’s campaign, though Manzano was not one of them and the poll itself is not associated with any campaign. The poll was conducted in both English and Spanish and had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.
The top three most important issues facing the Latino community, respondents said, are immigration policy (34 percent), the economy (33 percent), and health care (15 percent), though the economy was by far the most important issue for them personally at 47 percent.
The high response about health care, almost twice the national response, was likely due to the Legislature choosing not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Manzano surmised.
A summary of the results is here: http://bit.ly/1Tnr3QM
The full breakdown of poll responses is here: http://bit.ly/1rqqk8R
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com