The same day Republicans launched their "Latinos for Trump" initiative in Florida to try to chip away at Democrats' support from Latinos, a poll from a major Latino advocacy group held a warning for the GOP.
The poll commissioned by UnidosUS, the nation's largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, formerly known as National Council of La Raza, found that 56 percent of Latinos who voted for Republicans in the past agree that it is hard to support Republican candidates right now. Of all those polled, 37 percent said they had voted for a Republican in the past.
“The poll shows that support for the GOP is eroding,” Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro, UnidosUS deputy vice president for policy and advocacy, said in a press release.
“While the president claims Latino support is growing, that is not based in reality. In fact, he has brought down the overall likability of the entire party," she said later in a conference call to discuss the poll results.
A poll of Latinos in four states conducted by Telemundo and Maxon-Dixon Strategies Inc. found similar dislike for Trump among registered Latino voters.
In California, 66 percent said they would not vote to re-elect him; in Texas, it was 69 percent, and in New York City, 73 percent. The number was even lower in Florida, at 56 percent. The poll of 400 people in each state has a plus or minus 5 percent margin of error.
Florida has become the epicenter of the discussion of Latino voters this week as both parties hold major events seeking the support of the country’s nearly 60 million Hispanics. Democrats hold their first two debates here on Wednesday and Thursday.
"The reality is you see from the numbers the president seems to be holding the margin of support that he captured from Latinos from when he got elected, similar to most of the rest of the electorate," Martínez-de-Castro said.
The Trump campaign rolled out its 2020 campaign pitch to Latinos Tuesday in Miami, with Vice President Mike Pence delivering a starkly different message than Trump delivered when he launched his 2016 campaign. Then, the president said people "sent" by Mexico were rapists, criminals and drug couriers.
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Pence said the Latinos for Trump group was "one of the most important coalitions of the 2020 campaign."
"I promise, from the first day of this administration, President Trump has been fighting for the values that are really synonymous with Hispanic and Latino Americans — hard work, faith, family, freedom, educational choice and the American Dream," Pence said at the rally.
But fear of a Trump re-election is registering as a potential factor in his campaign effort. The UnidosUS poll shows that 66 percent of Latinos agree that the treatment of immigrants by the president and his allies make them worry that it will get worse in a second Trump term. Adding in people who said they sometimes have such worries put the share at 78 percent.
A yet-to-be-determined Democrat nominee was favored 62 percent to 21 percent over Trump, while only half of self-identified Republicans said they would definitely vote for Trump.
"Latinos are concerned about issues, but they also have this overarching concern about how Trump is treating Latinos and immigrants," said Sylvia Manzano, a principal at the polling firm Latino Decisions, which conducted the poll.
With the unemployment rate among Latinos reaching historic lows at 4.2 percent, the poll conducted by Latino Decisions, which has done polling for Democrats and progressive groups, shows Republicans do have an opportunity to reach out to the Latino community.
Despite low unemployment among Latinos, results from the poll show that jobs and the economy ranked first in priority among those polled, with 23 percent mentioning that issue as their top concern.
However, while jobs and the economy was the top issue, health care was mentioned the most by respondents. Immigration ranked third.
The poll asked Latinos an open-ended question to explain what they meant when they named jobs, health care or other issues that mattered most to them.
Manzano said that in those explanations, respondents discussed job insecurity, low wages, having to hold more than one job, cuts in work hours and having to pay more for health care as their work hours are cut. UnidosUS plans to release more in-depth analysis and polling that dives deeper into those issues as the campaign continues, Martinez-de-Castro said.
The poll was conducted before Trump announced on Twitter that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would begin removing millions of undocumented immigrants from the country. The president later put that on hold for two weeks.
While it may not rank as the top issue, immigration "packs a powerful punch" among Latino voters who know "it is used as a proxy to wage anti-Latino sentiment," Martínez-de-Castro said.
The poll found that 76 percent of those polled want a candidate who values diversity and brings people together. A candidate who "fights for my priorities," is willing to work with both parties and compromise to get things done finished a close second at 74 percent. Only 2 percent of the respondents thought that the ability to speak Spanish was the most important trait for a president.
Martínez-de-Castro said the findings show Latinos want to see solutions and plans, and outreach to Latinos is more than having a website in Spanish.
The poll conducted by Latino Decisions, a Democratic polling firm, surveyed 1,854 eligible Latino voters between June 1-14, and carries of margin of error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.
Surveys were conducted in English or Spanish, according to the respondent’s choice, and were completed using a blended sample that included live telephone interviews on landlines and cellphones, and online surveys.
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