By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee and Kira Lerner
May 4, 2016
Donald Trump, a real-estate tycoon, reality television star, and xenophobic racist, became the presumptive Republican nominee Tuesday night after his primary competitor, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), lost Indiana’s primary and dropped out.
Trump, who has made xenophobia and anti-immigrant fearmongering core tenets of his campaign, is already inspiring immigrants to become citizens in order to vote for anyone but him. A recent poll of Latino voters showed his candidacy is making them more determined than ever to hit the polls to vote against him in November.
The revulsion against the casino mogul’s anti-immigrant rhetoric will likely spur a backlash against the Republican Party that nominated him for years to come. Just take the Republican Party’s own word for it.
After President Obama won reelection in 2012, Republicans commissioned a massive report to look into why the party lost the the White House. The report warned that GOP support from Latinos, a fast-growing and necessary-to-win demographic, had dropped so low that the party was in danger of falling out of step with the changing general electorate. The report concluded Republicans must immediately change their platform and embrace immigration reform in order to salvage their chances in future general elections.
“We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, must be to embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform,” the report read. “If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.”
So all eyes turned to 2016. The party began looking for its next emerging star. Would it be a young Latino, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who could invigorate his own demographic and who has previously worked across the aisle to pass immigration reform in the Senate? Or someone like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), who speaks Spanish, has also embraced immigration reform, and whose wife is Latino.
Then came Trump.
Trump, who began his campaign by name-calling immigrants, has called for the mass deportation of the country’s 11.3 million undocumented population, a blanket ban and surveillance of Muslims, and a 2,000-mile long border wall paid for by Mexico. And his words have inspired supporters to hit, grab, spit on, kick, and hurt immigrant supporters and Latinos across the country.
When Trump became the presumptive nominee on Tuesday night, the GOP’s autopsy report recommendations went out the window — for this election, and maybe many more for years to come. Trump has turned off Latino voters so deeply that one GOP strategist told ThinkProgress he will doom the GOP for “at least a generation.”
For his part, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who also just recently called for the party to make inroads with Latinos or risk shutting out voters for years to come, said that he wanted to bring unity to the Republican Party.
The Republican Party will need as much as 40 percent of the Latino vote in some states to win the presidency. Republican presidential candidates may need anywhere between 42 and 47 percent of the Latino vote, especially in key battleground states like Virginia, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado, the polling group Latino Decisions found.
It’s highly unlikely Trump will be able to get the party there. He already has trouble winning over women and people of color. But particularly for Latinos, many have already said they were spurred to vote because of Trump’s anti-immigrant comments.
Experts looking ahead at the general election are already hypothesizing about how much Trump could hurt the Republican Party. Many say his disdain for Hispanics could cost the GOP control of the Senate, and even states like Texas — once a Republican stronghold — could be in play.
After Cruz dropped out of the race, immigrant advocates took to social media to make it known that they wouldn’t support Trump.
“We are fired up, knocking on doors and organizing to defeat Trump’s hateful vision for America, end deportations and ensure that the dreams of a better life that we came here for are realized,” Greisa Martinez, Advocacy Director of United We Dream Action said in a press statement.
“Now that Donald Trump is the presumed Republican nominee, the Latino community must stand together against hate and make our voices heard – let’s send a message to the GOP that we won’t stand for their bigotry, and throw our support behind Hillary Clinton, who has proven that she has our back and that she will do right by our community,” Cristobal Alex, President of Latino Victory Fund said in a press statement.
About two-thirds of Latino voters say that it’s extremely important or very important to change federal immigration policies and pass new immigration reform soon, according to the Pew Research Center. The same poll found that about one-third of Latino voters say that they would not vote for a candidate if they disagreed with the candidate on immigration policy.
There will be more than 27 million eligible Latino voters this fall, and more than half of them are millennials. Many of these voters have unfavorable views of Trump — and their ranks are only growing.
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