PHOENIX -- A new poll released Monday by Latino Victory Project, a Democratic group, shows Latinos feel increased concern about racism and that President Donald Trump is doing a worse job than they expected.
Results from the poll, conducted by Latino Decisions, show that when asked about the largest concerns facing the Latino community, race and race relations ranked second under immigration. While 53 percent of respondents mentioned immigration when asked to give one or two most important issues, 25 percent said so of race and race relations.
"This is the first time we’ve seen such a high marks ... for race and race relations," said Latino Decisions pollster Matt Baretto.
The results also show that 67 percent of Latinos disapprove of the job Trump is doing. By comparison, the latest polling numbers compiled by the website FiveThirtyEight shows that 54 percent of all adults in the country disapprove of Trump’s job in office.
Though Latinos may have had low expectations of Trump given he launched his campaign by saying Mexico sends rapists and criminals to the U.S, the poll found that 59 percent of the respondents think Trump is doing even worse than they expected.
The Latino Victory Fund polling results are drawn from a sample of 755 Latino adults from September 12-19, where respondents were selected to participate in an online survey. The respondents were selected based on a quota sampling method to ensure correct demographic representation by the participants, and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.57 percentage points.
The polling preceded the president condemnation at an Alabama rally of NFL players' protests during the playing of the national anthem, which former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started to protest the killings of African Americans by police.
But the poll follows Trump's pardoning of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his recision of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama administration immigration program that allowed immigrants of certain ages and here much of their lives to stay and work.
Latinos seem especially frustrated by Trump’s racial politics pushed to the forefront in part by white supremacist rallies held around the country in places such as in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Heather Heyer was intentionally run over by a car that plowed into the counter-protesters.
Following the Charlottesville attack, Trump refused to immediately condemn Nazis and white supremacists, instead saying that there were people to “blame on both sides”. The poll shows that 64 percent of Latinos think Trump’s comments on Charlottesville were not strong enough.
"President Trump has been worse than we expected and has badly damaged the Republican brand in the eyes of Latinos," said Cristobal Alex, president of Latino Victory. "These findings point to an opportunity to seize upon the energy of the Latino community ahead of the 2018 and 2020 election cycles. It's up to us to galvanize Latinos around progressive candidates that demonstrate understanding and respect for our community."
Soon after the Charlottesville violence, Trump went to a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, where he suggested he would pardon the disgraced Arpaio. Arpaio had been convicted of criminally disobeying a court order to stop profiling Latinos in his jurisdiction and was facing sentencing. Trump followed through on his promise, despite the long list of accusations of human rights abuses that occurred in Arpaio's jails and other abuses of power, such as hiring a private investigator to investigate the judge presiding over his case and his wife. Unsurprisingly, 82 percent of Latinos oppose Trump's pardon of Arpaio.
"This is the first large-sample national Latino survey we have seen since the 'Summer of Racism', and across the board Latinos are upset with almost every move Trump is making. From Charlottesville to Arpaio and everything in between, Latinos view Trump quite negatively," said Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions, and professor of political science and Chicano studies at University of California, Los Angeles.
Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said the poll results show "that the Republican Party is dramatically out of touch with Latinos. Seventy percent of Latinos think the Republicans are either hostile to or don’t care about Latinos," Perez said. "That’s a remarkable rejection of the Republican Party and it’s because Republicans continue to try to take health care away from working families. It’s because they continue to wage a war on voting rights; they continue to terrorize immigrant communities; they continue to chip away labor rights and weaken our economic safety net just to give millions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy."
Still, respondents said immigration reform was the most important issue facing the Latino community, at 53 percent, but that doesn't mean they are a sure thing for Democrats. Only 38 percent of Latinos said they thought Democrats are doing a good job reaching out to their community and 30 percent said the party doesn't care too much at all about Latinos.