Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, February 26, 2020
He was told being strict on illegal immigration would doom him among Hispanic voters.
Yet President Trump has defied their predictions, from the moment he delivered his iconic address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2013 — warning the Republican Party that legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants was political suicide — through the 2016 presidential election and into the White House.
Now nine months out from his second Election Day, and despite a tenure in the White House that has involved building a border wall, stepping up deportations and insulting some Latin American nations as “s—hole” countries, Mr. Trump is as strong as ever among Hispanic voters, according to the polls.
One poll puts his approval rating as high as 44% and shows him winning 41% of the Hispanic vote in a head-to-head match-up with Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. That would best his 2016 showing of 28% support and put him in the running with President George W. Bush for the highest share of Hispanic votes for a GOP candidate.
“Latinos have lost the fear of Donald Trump,” said Alfonso Aguilar, who ran the Department of Homeland Security’s citizenship office in the Bush administration and now runs the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.
Democrats have taken notice, too.
Kristian Ramos, a former spokeswoman for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, published a piece in the Atlantic sounding alarms about Mr. Trump’s numbers.
Mr. Trump has improved his standing among Hispanics in just the last week in two regular polls — the Politico/Morning Consult survey and the Economist/YouGov survey. Last week both had the president at 35% approval in the Hispanic breakout of their national survey. This week he’s at 39% in the Morning Consult poll and 38% in the YouGov survey.
His best numbers came in an Emerson College Polling survey last week. The poll director told The Washington Times that Mr. Trump had a 44% approval rating, and in a head-to-head showdown with Mr. Sanders, the leading Democrat, Mr. Trump garnered 41% support.
The 40% mark is an important threshold.
In 2004, running on a platform of legalization of illegal immigrants, Mr. Bush won 44% of the vote, according to the national exit poll. Some analysts said that seemed high. They crunched numbers from the state exit polling to show he won 40%.
The National Annenberg Election Survey put Mr. Bush’s tally at 41%, while the William C. Velasquez Institute’s post-election poll put it at 35%.
In 2008, Sen. John McCain lost the presidential race with 31% support among Hispanics. Mitt Romney lost four years later, garnering just 27% support, according to exit polling.
The Republican National Committee, in its post-election “autopsy” report, said party politicians needed to embrace legalization. That message was pounded from the stage at CPAC in 2013, with speaker after speaker saying it was time to change the party’s law-and-order stance.
Then Mr. Trump strode to the stage.
“You’re on a suicide mission,” he told CPAC, saying it was impossible for Republicans to outbid Democrats.
Lydia Camarillo, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, questioned the value of most polling at this point in 2020, pointing to the small subsample sizes pollsters use for Hispanics. The Morning Consult poll, which is one of the larger samples, surveyed 193 Hispanics, leaving a large margin of error.
Ms. Camarillo said she puts more stock in a recent Univision/Latino Decisions poll, which specializes in Hispanic voters, and which showed Mr. Trump with just 27% support.
“I think 27% is about right,” she said.