Will Donald Trump’s pivot on immigration and his trip to Mexico change the way Hispanic voters view him? I don’t know. But quite apart from anything Trump is doing, Hispanics view Hillary Clinton less favorably than they did earlier this year.
According to the Washington Post, a new Latino Decisions poll found that 70 percent of registered Hispanic voters say they will definitely vote for Clinton or were leaning towards doing so. That’s not a bad number, but it’s down 6 points from April.
Moreover, the same survey found that only 55 percent of Hispanics view Clinton favorably. That’s down from 71 percent in April.
The poll indicates that the decline is Clinton’s favorability rating has not produced a corresponding movement away from Clinton in favor of Trump — presumably because Trump is so unpopular among Hispanics. Imagine if the Republicans had nominated a more palatable candidate who took the same position Trump now holds on dealing with illegal immigrants.
But the poll also suggests that Trump has an opening — one that his new position on immigration might help him exploit, the dishonest portrayal of that position by the mainstream media notwithstanding.
Clinton, though, is not going to stand still when it comes the Hispanic vote. According to the Post, unlike the 2012 Obama campaign, Team Clinton has not been airing Spanish language ads in battleground states. However, this is about to change, with ad buys now slated to target Hispanic voters in Arizona, Florida, and Nevada.
In the end, I think we can expect Clinton to at least match Barack Obama’s margin over Mitt Romney among Hispanics. The big question is whether her turnout of Hispanic voters will match Obama’s. If her favorability rating remains at 55 percent, this seems like a tall order.
One more point. Polls, the Post says, show that Clinton is weakest among Hispanic voters who are English-dominant and U.S. born. Spanish-dominant and foreign born Hispanic voters are more likely to support her.
This finding will surprise no one, least of all the Democrats who have long supported citizenship for illegal immigrants. What’s surprising is that so many Republicans have supported a path to citizenship.