In a presidential election wrapped with the harsh immigration rhetoric of Donald Trump, a new poll shows that the GOP nominee is a drag on other Republican races in swing states, but that Democrats are not making the most of it because they are leaving Latino votes on the table.
The poll of Latino voters in six battleground states, commissioned by immigration advocacy group America's Voice and conducted by Latino Decisions polling firm, showed Trump viewed unfavorably by 70 percent of Latinos in every state but Florida, where it is 65 percent.
Latino Decisions polled Latinos in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia.
The poll also found that Latinos were less likely to vote for their Republican Senate candidate if they knew that the candidate was supporting Trump. But many Latino voters were unaware of where either candidate stood on immigration or Trump.
Advocates called this a missed opportunity because enthusiasm and interest was reported to be high largely because of the attention brought on by the media on Trump. Also, immigration was named as the top issue or one of the top issues important to Latinos and that the president and Congress should address.
For example, when Latino voters in Arizona were asked if they knew where the Democratic candidate, Ann Kirkpatrick, stood on immigration issues, 76 percent said they did not know.
In North Carolina, 71 percent did not know the immigration view of Republican Sen. Richard Burr and 76 percent did not know that of his Democratic challenger Deborah Ross.
Burr voted against the 2013 comprehensive immigration bill and has voted to end President Barack Obama's executive action programs that would shield millions of immigrants from deportation and allow them to work. Ross is supportive of of comprehensive immigration reform and Obama's programs.
When asked if they would be more or less likely to support their Republican Senate candidate if they knew the candidate was supporting Trump, Latino voters had a more negative view of that candidate.
Sixty-eight percent of Latinos surveyed said they would be less likely to vote for Burr if they knew he was supporting Trump, which he is.
"The numbers on the Senate race are very concerning and show that Latinos are not aware of Ross' pro-immigrant stance or that their two-term sitting senator, Burr, is anti-immigrant," said Tim Eakins, state director of North Carolina's Voice, an affiliate of America's Voice.
In no battleground state surveyed did more than half of the Latino registered voters say that they were contacted by a political party, community organization, or campaign. Nationally, 60 percent of Latinos said they were not contacted in the past few months, according to a separate Latino Decisions poll.
Given the response, "the big story of the day is that Democrats are not investing in outreach to Latinos. With only 60 days left, Ross has a clear opportunity to make big gains with Latinos," Eakins said.
In other states, Latino voter support dropped when they were asked whether they were more or less likely to support their Senate candidate if told that candidate supports Trump:
- 71 percent said they would be less likely to vote for Sen. John McCain in Arizona
- 74 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for Darryl Glenn in Colorado
- 58 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for Marco Rubio in Florida
- 66 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for Rob Portman of Ohio
- 68 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for Joe Heck of Nevada
There is no Senate race in Virginia this year.
In 2012, Mitt Romney had a 40 percent favorability rating among Latinos in Florida at this point four years ago, compared to a 28 percent rating today, said Gabriel Sanchez, a principal of Latino Decisions.
The more Latino voters know about where their Senate candidates stand, the more likely they are to support the Democratic candidate, Sanchez said.
Democrats and campaigns "are leaving a lot of Latino votes on the table", Sanchez said. "It's a tremendous opportunity at the national level, but at the state level as well."
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. This poll was directed by Dr. Sylvia Manzano, principal at Latino Decisions