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Opinion: Is It Time for Latinos to Panic Yet?

by Stephen A. Nuño /
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tries to ascertain whether a person yelling at him from the crowd is a supporter or a detractor during a Trump campaign rally in Plymouth, New Hampshire Feb. 7, 2016. JIM BOURG / Reuters

It may be time for Latinos to start seriously considering a United States of America with a President named Donald Trump. Trump won the New Hampshire primary as expected, but the rest of the Republican field seemed to be thrown into chaos. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were supposed to come comfortably in second and third place, but John Kasich, the governor from Ohio, outperformed his predictions with a solid second place finish.

While Trump’s victory wasn’t a surprise, the shuffle going on below Donald Trump indicates an uneasy certainty over who should be Trump’s main challenger. After the Iowa Caucus, the media had coronated Marco Rubio as the chosen one who would rise among the Republican establishment to take on Donald Trump, but that plan seems to have taken a sharp U-turn after Rubio’s brutal performance at the New Hampshire debate. And with humble acknowledgment in his speech after the New Hampshire vote, Rubio said, "It's on me".

Instead of Rubio, New Hampshire Republicans seemed to be looking at a politician with a proven record of governing to take on Trump. The question is whether John Kasich can answer the call and continue the momentum into South Carolina and Nevada.

As the field continues to come into focus, it is now blatantly obvious that the Republican party is operating on a toxic cocktail of nationalism and deep dissatisfaction.

But, most concerning for Latinos, and minorities in the short term, was the overwhelming dissatisfaction and anger that is propelling Donald Trump to the top. When voters were asked if they were angry, 40 percent of Republicans agreed that they were angry and 49 percent of Republicans said they were dissatisfied.

The exit polls showed uniform support for Trump from every age group. Most concerning, the exit polls showed that 65 percent of Republican voters supported the idea of temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.

Yet, mixed into tonight's evidence of extreme dissatisfaction was an uncharacteristically moderate attitude towards immigrants. When asked what should be done with “illegal immigrants” working in the United States, 56 percent of Republican voters said that they should be offered a chance to apply for legal status and immigration ranked last in importance to Republican New Hampshire voters, behind the economy, terrorism, and government spending. Even so, the state's voters opted for a Republican candidate who has made "building a wall" and trashing Mexico one of the centerpieces of his campaign.

As the field continues to come into focus, it is now blatantly obvious that the Republican party is operating on a toxic cocktail of nationalism and deep dissatisfaction. And it looks like the Republican Party establishment doesn’t quite know how to control the right wing populism driving Trump to the top.

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