Wall Street Journal
By Miriam Jordan
November 9, 2016
This was supposed to be the year Latinos made their mark on the presidential race, motivated by Donald Trump’s comments about illegal immigrants. But Latino vote totals in key states weren’t enough to counter the tide in favor of the Republican nominee.
The largely white Trump voting coalition “washed out most of the Latino surge,” said Joe Rubio, lead organizer at Valley Interfaith Project in Arizona, part of a 14-group coalition that conducted a voter-registration drive in the state.
Results from heavily Hispanic areas indicate that more Latinos voted nationwide than in 2012, and a national exit poll conducted by Edison Research showed that Latinos rose slightly as a share of the electorate.
Hispanic turnout was strong in some states: Orlando’s main county, which has seen an influx of newcomers from Puerto Rico, produced a 134,000-vote margin for Hillary Clinton, nearly 50,000 votes larger than President Barack Obama’s winning margin four years ago. In Florida’s heavily Hispanic Miami-Dade County, Mrs. Clinton outpolled Mr. Trump by about 290,000 votes, about 80,000 votes more than Mr. Obama’s 2012 margin.
In Florida statewide, where many Hispanics, particularly Cuban-Americans back the GOP, Mrs. Clinton garnered 67% of the vote compared with 58% for President Obama in 2012, according to the firm.
Yet Mr. Trump won Florida due to his strength in other parts of the state. And exit polls found that Mrs. Clinton’s advantage among Hispanic voters had narrowed nationally compared with her party’s showing in 2012. She won those voters by a 36-point margin, compared with Mr. Obama’s 44-point lead.
Latino Decisions, which specializes in Hispanics, gave a different analysis. It estimated that 79% of Latinos supported Mrs. Clinton and 18% backed Mr. Trump, a forecast that it said was corroborated by analysis of results coming in from Latino-majority precincts in states across the country.
“As we went from Rio Grande Valley in Texas to Miami to Milwaukee, the actual precinct results are showing that it was very close to a 20-80 distribution,” in favor of Mrs. Clinton, said Matt Barreto, managing partner of the polling firm.
Mr. Trump’s tough talk on immigration, his pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico and negative comments about Mexicans energized Hispanic voters, analysts said.
Mrs. Clinton had called for giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. She enlisted immigrant activists to her campaign team and featured undocumented children at rallies.
“There is no question that more Latinos showed up than ever,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, citing their impact on Nevada, Colorado and Virginia, all of which Mrs. Clinton carried. “Their vote was enough in some states and not enough in others.”
On Tuesday, many Latino voters in Florida, Arizona and Nevada reported they were voting for the first time. “With the stuff that Donald Trump said, I was convinced I had to vote,” said Raul Esquivel, a 31-year-old second-generation Mexican-American after casting a ballot for the first time in Phoenix.
Latinos helped elect the first Latina senator in Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto, and defeat Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio , who had taken a hard line on undocumented immigrants.
Still, the election result represents a setback for the largest minority group in the U.S., accounting for nearly 18% of the U.S. population, or about 55 million people, according to the Census.
Most Latinos are now U.S.-born. Many of them are the children of immigrants and have relatives or friends who are in the country illegally.
Among other things, Mr. Trump has said he would ramp up deportations, detain more individuals who enter the U.S. without permission and reduce legal immigration.
The president-elect has said he also would dismantle a program, known as DACA, which President Obama introduced to give individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children a work permit and a renewable temporary legal status.
Latinos represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. electorate and are expected to continue to grow.
The number of Latino eligible voters—U.S. citizens who are 18 years and older—has grown by four million since 2012, to a record 27.3 million, according to Pew Research Center. They represent 12% of eligible voters.
But the Latino voting rate has lagged behind that of other groups. In 2012, 48% of eligible Hispanics cast a ballot, compared with 66.6% of blacks and 64.1% of non-Hispanic whites, according to the nonpartisan think tank.
The Census estimated that 11.2 million Latinos voted in 2012. Latino Decisions predicts that number grew to between 13 and 14 million this year.
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