No Joke: Trump Can Win Plenty of Latinos

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Daily Beast, February 12, 2016

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Keep in mind three points. First, you have to understand that we’re talking here primarily about Latino Republicans, many of whom might live in red states such as Arizona or Texas. Those Latinos who are Democrats (as about 80 percent of them are, according to surveys) are busy dividing up their support between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, with most of it going to Clinton.

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{snip} What he’s saying and how he is saying it may be resonating with many Latino voters.

A new poll confirms it. In the national survey, which was conducted by Beck Research on behalf of the American Federation for Children, 38 percent of Latinos favor Trump. Ted Cruz got 15 percent. Jeb Bush pulled in 14 percent. And Marco Rubio, the guy who’s supposed to be the one who could unite the party and win? Just 8 percent.

There is also anecdotal information, including conversations I’ve had in recent months with Latino friends who are leaning toward voting for Trump.

There are also the emails I receive from readers like Ernesto Villareal, a Texas Latino who referred to himself as an “Orgulloso Tejano Americano.” Villareal wrote the following: “I have voted Democratic all my life. However, it will be a cold day in hell if I will vote for Mrs. Clinton. I strongly believe that Mr. Trump is the one to turn this great country of ours in the right direction.”

Or the one I got recently from another reader named Chuck Castillo, who wrote this after I bashed Trump: “You never get it, do you? Trump, himself, is not the issue. Do you really believe that Trump hates Latinos? What you should be paying attention to is that so many Americans agree with what he said. That so many Americans agree with what Trump says is indicative that immigrants have lost in the court of public opinion and that’s where they had to win.”

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In August 2015, Gallup released a survey that found only 14 percent of Latinos had a positive view of Trump while 65 percent had a negative view.

But lately, something has changed. In politics, as in life, time heals wounds. And while Latinos haven’t forgotten what Trump said about Mexican immigrants being criminals and rapists, and how he wants to deport 11 million people, they have begun to put such comments in the context of a candidate who, it often seems, has offended just about everyone in this country.

And interestingly enough, with most Puerto Ricans and Dominican-Americans solidly in the Democratic camp, and Cuban-Americans splitting their allegiance between Rubio and Cruz, it is in the Mexican-American community in the Southwest where you are most likely to find Latinos lining up with Trump.

They’re in red states like Texas and Arizona, and the battleground state of Colorado. There’s a lot they like about Trump, including his independence, plainspokenness, success in business, and disdain for political correctness. They see him as strong and resolute, and not having to cater to moneyed interests since he is self-funding his campaign. And either they don’t buy the idea that he is anti-Mexican, or they don’t care.

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So, as the voting moves to the Southwest, don’t be surprised to hear more about a new meme: “Latinos for Trump.” And guess what? Given Trump’s genius for marketing, you can be bet that there will be a version in Spanish.

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