By Randy DeSoto
President Donald Trump’s significantly higher level of support among Latino voters than in 2016 could make the difference in him securing a second term in November. A newly released survey of Christian Latino registered voters by Claremont McKenna College found Trump with a 32 percent favorability rating.
The president’s level of support among Latinos overall in July 2016, just months before the election, stood at 14 percent, with 82 percent of registered voters viewing him unfavorably, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. A Wall Street Journal/NBC/Telemundo poll released in the middle of last month revealed Trump had 26 percent support among registered Latino voters, which is nearly double his 2016 support. The telephone poll was conducted between Sept. 13 and Sept. 16 among 300 Hispanic registered voters, with a margin of error of +/- 5.7 percentage points.
Gaston Espinosa — chair of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College and author of the college’s survey — told The Western Journal during a Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday that the level of Christian Latino support for Trump closely tracks the overall tally, which he thinks will be higher than 26 percent.
“The percentages are not going to change that much in the general population of Latinos because they tend to more or less mirror the findings among Latino Christians,” he said.
Christian Latinos — Catholic, Protestant/other Christian — make up 85 percent of the population’s voting electorate, Espinosa added. Espinosa estimated Trump’s support among Latinos as a whole to be over 30 percent.
“Based on Trumps favorability rating, the fact that conservatives underreport, and that a high percentage of independent and undecided voters nationwide are born-again Christians, Trump may end up taking 31-34 percent of the U.S. Latino vote — though probably around 32-33 percent,” he said in a news release.
The Claremont McKenna survey consisted of 1,292 Christian Latino registered voters, conducted from Sept. 8 to Sept. 22, with a margin of error of +/- 2.73 percent.
An Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll released Friday backed up Espinosa’s assessment, finding Trump’s support among Latinos at 36 percent.
If Trump were to garner 32 percent or more of the Latino vote, that would put him above the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who took an estimated 31 percent in his 2008 presidential race against Barack Obama.McCain co-sponsored immigration reform legislation and was seen as supportive of the Latino community, which makes up approximately 32 percent of Arizona’s population.
Texas resident George W. Bush did the best with Latinos among recent GOP presidential candidates, taking roughly 44 percent in 2004 in his re-election race against then Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Like Arizona, Latinos make up the largest minority group in Texas, at nearly 40 percent.
The Claremont McKenna survey found that Trump is performing particularly well with Latinos in key swing states.
“Although [Joe] Biden is outperforming Trump among Latinos in every swing state, surprisingly, Trump is doing better than expected in five electoral-rich swing states, including Florida (41%), Nevada (38%), Texas (35%), Georgia (35%), and North Carolina (28%),” according to a Claremont McKenna news release.
“In Florida, another poll found Trump is taking 38% of Latino voters in Miami-Dade county, a key metropolitan for Biden.”
Miami-Dade includes a large Cuban-American population. A Florida International University poll released Friday found 59 percent of South Florida Cuban Americans say they will vote for Trump, NBC News reported.
The president’s particularly strong support among the Cuban and Venezuelan Americans is linked to his strong stand against socialism, according to the news outlet.
An NBC News/Marist poll published early last month showed Trump beating Biden 50 to 46 percent among Florida’s Latinos overall.
An unscientific flash poll among Telemundo viewers conducted via Twitter following Tuesday night’s presidential debate showed 66 percent believing that Trump won, versus 34 percent for Biden.