Despite the narrative that Hillary Clinton and Democrats are doing worse in reaching Latino voters than President Barack Obama did in 2012, a poll released Monday suggests that 2016 is not going as badly as pundits say.
Results of a Latino Decisions tracking poll released Monday show that a greater share of registered Latino voters have been reached thus far in this election than by the end of the election in 2012; they have also been contacted sooner and the majority have been reached by Democrats.
Even so, nearly 60 percent are not hearing from anyone.
"This poll confirms what we have known for some time, that Latino voters are still being ignored by major campaigns, political parties and funders," stated Arturo Vargas, NALEO Educational Fund executive director.
"Latinos are not a three-state electorate limited to the battlegrounds of Nevada, Colorado and Florida. We are a 50-state community that continues to grow and expand every year, and it's time for our nation's voter mobilization efforts to finally reflect that reality," said Vargas.
In the first segment of what will be an eight-week tracking poll of Latino registered voters, 39 percent said there were contacted by a political party, campaign or any other organization. Meanwhile, 31 percent of Latino voters who were reached on the eve of the 2012 election said they had been contacted.
The 2016 poll is being conducted on behalf of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund (NALEO) and Noticias Telemundo and conducted by Latino Decisions. Latino Decisions also did the 2012 poll.
Of those contacted in 2016, more than half were contacted by Democrats. About a quarter said they were reached by Republicans, 16 percent by a non-profit group and 9 percent didn't really know, according to results of the poll done from Sept. 12 to Sept 16.
Data was not available from 2012 to compare the shares of Latino voters reached by each party, although representatives from Latino Decisions say those will be available next week.
However, direct comparisons can be made in this poll in enthusiasm for this election among Latino voters and enthusiasm in 2012 compared to 2008.
For instance, 48 percent of Latinos said they were more enthusiastic about this year's election than in 2012. A similar question in 2012 showed lower levels of enthusiasm among Latinos, 40 percent, than the previous election in 2008.
Despite the enthusiasm, 61 percent of Latino registered voters said they have never been contacted, which was reflected in a separate Latino Decisions poll conducted for the liberal immigrant advocacy group America's Voice. It showed Latinos knew little about the position of their state's U.S. Senate candidates on immigration, regardless of whether they are Democrat or Republican.
Organizations insist that Hillary Clinton has disappointed expectations that Donald Trump would be an opportunity for Democrats to dig deeper into the Latino electorate or that she is not doing as well with the community as President Barack Obama had done. With funding for voter outreach reportedly low compared to 2012, fewer resources to make phone calls, send fliers, and knock on doors should also be expected to be reflected in the data.
In a recent report by NBCNews, Clarissa Martínez de Castro, deputy vice president of the National Council de la Raza (NCLR), said "we are seeing very weak investments in what we consider a key factor, as a non-profit organization, in growing the Latino vote." She expressed concern about expanding the number of Latino registered voters because some 9.6 million did not register and each year about 1 million more U.S.-born Latinos turn 18 and are eligible to vote.
But the weaker investments reported by NCLR and other Latino organizations do not appear, at least for now, to be having a negative impact on Latino voters' perception about the campaigns.
When asked if the Democrats were doing a good job of reaching out to Latinos at the same time in 2012, 55 percent of respondents agreed. The 2016 tracking poll shows a similar assessment of Democrats' outreach this year, with 59 percent saying that Democrats were doing a good job of reaching out to Latinos; a slight uptick, but within the margin of error.
In short, Latinos think Democrats are doing a good job in reaching out to Latinos.
The poll also showed:
• Clinton has a 65 percent favorability rating among Latinos, while Obama has 72 percent.
• There has been a significant jump in negativity towards the GOP and its outreach to Latinos. When asked in 2012 if the Republicans were doing a good job of reaching out to Latinos or if the GOP was being hostile, only 20 percent of Latinos said that Republicans were being hostile. This year, 43 percent of Latinos say that the GOP is being hostile. This may be a result of negativity from the Trump campaign.
NOTE: In August 2015, Matt Barreto and Gary Segura of Latino Decisions were hired as consultants to the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Latino Decisions said this study was not coordinated, sponsored, or otherwise endorsed by any campaign, party, or political organization.