High-flying Donald Trump boasted that he beat two Hispanic Republican rivals, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, among Latino voters in Tuesday’s Nevada GOP caucuses.
Despite some of his more outrageous proposals, including building a wall along the southwestern border and deporting more than 11 million illegal immigrants, Trump insists he will surprise many with the depth of his support among Hispanics as he seeks to win the GOP presidential nomination.
"You know what I really am happy about?" Trump asked his supporters at a victory celebration in Las Vegas as he reviewed the breadth of his support in the caucuses. "Forty-six percent were the Hispanics. Forty-six percent! Number one with Hispanics,” bellowed Trump, who launched his campaign last spring by denouncing illegal Mexican immigrants as criminals, drug dealers and rapists. “I'm really happy about that.”
However, in the harsh glare of daylight, Trump’s 45-percent victory among the Republican Hispanics who turned out for the caucuses is far less impressive than Trump may think.
For one thing, only a small sliver of Nevada’s overall Latino electorate took part in the GOP caucuses. An estimated 16,500 Latinos took part in the Democratic caucuses while about 6,000 participated in the GOP caucuses, according to an analysis by Latino Decisions, a polling and research organization.
Trump came away with an estimated 2,600 Latino votes, or only 11 percent of Latinos who participated in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses.
And when you pull back the lens on where Trump stands nationally with Hispanic voters, the anti-immigrant businessman is in very deep trouble.
According to a new Washington Post-Univision poll of Latino voters nationwide, eight in 10 Hispanic voters have an unfavorable view of Trump and 70 percent have a “very unfavorable” view of him. That is more than twice the percentage of Hispanic disapproval of Rubio, Cruz and any other Republican candidate still in the field.
Latino animosity towards Trump has grown since last June, when fewer than six in ten Hispanics had a “very unfavorable” view of the billionaire, according to The Washington Post. More importantly, Trump performs very badly among Hispanic voters in hypothetical matchups with Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
For example, Clinton beats Trump among Hispanics, 73 percent to 16 percent. That 57-point gap is significantly wider than the 44-point margin by which Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote to President Obama in 2012.
Republican National Committee chief Reince Priebus and other GOP leaders have long warned that the Republicans stand little chance of regaining the presidency unless they do more to reach out to Hispanics and other minority voters, as the GOP’s share of white voters declines.
Romney drew just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in his failed bid for the White House in 2012, while Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona garnered 31 percent of the Hispanic electorate in his loss to Obama in 2008.
George W. Bush, the last Republican to be elected president, claimed 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. The GOP presidential nominee this year likely will have to at least match Bush to prevail in a general election campaign. If that’s the case, then Trump may have to rethink some of his more draconian immigration policies.
Trump has said that he “loves” Latinos and often notes that he has employed many of them at his country clubs, casinos and other business ventures. But there is plenty of empirical evidence that Latinos don’t love him back.