Trump camp sees opportunity with Latinos, but that bloc is eyeing other options

"Latino Americans are leaving the Democrat Party behind because they know that Joe Biden has failed," Lara Trump said. Nonetheless, that voting bloc may move in a different direction.

Published: June 11, 2024 11:00pm

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign this week debuted its “Latino Americans for Trump” coalition, hoping to build on growing support within the ever-more-influential voter bloc going into the November general election. Though there is some evidence that Latinos have lost confidence in President Joe Biden, they appear to be considering more than just Trump as an alternative.

The announcement highlighted Trump’s support among prominent Latino elected officials and featured endorsements from lawmakers such as Sens. Marco Rubio, Fla., and Ted Cruz, Texas. It further touted Trump’s own economic record and the benefits to the Latino community from his tenure. The campaign further highlighted Latino support for the tighter immigration policies for which Trump advocates.

“In 2020, we got more votes from Hispanic Americans than any Republican in more than 50 years, and we won the Texas border counties that no Republican candidate had won in more than a century! In 2024, we’re going to win an even larger share of the Hispanic American vote, setting all-time records for Republicans up and down the ballot,” Trump said in a press release.

"President Trump understands the challenges Hispanic Americans are facing under the Biden Administration. Everything costs more. Our communities aren't safe. And the world is on fire. President Trump is not going to play petty politics. His focus is on rebuilding this country and making life better for you and your family,” Rubio said.

The initiative itself appears largely aimed at highlighting the economic opportunities of the Trump administration in contrast to the situation under President Joe Biden, with the coalition’s mission statement stating that “President Trump achieved record unemployment, made it possible to own a home, start a successful business, and ensured that Latino families have a voice in their children’s education.”

Previously dubbed “Latinos for Trump,” the coalition was rebranded to include the word “Americans,” which Republican National Committee Hispanic Communications Director Jaime Florez told the New York Times was done to emphasize the importance of citizenship.

“It’s very important that we all understand that no matter where we’re coming from, we’re already American,” told the outlet. “Whether you’re African American, Latino American, Asian American, European American — wherever you come from, we are all American.”

Prior outreach

Trump has long attempted to win over Hispanic/Latino American voters, especially in light of his immigration positions which directly affect the predominantly Latino border communities. Throughout the years, some efforts have been on the light-hearted side, such as a Tweet from 2016 in which he posed with a taco bowl on Cinco De Mayo.

Other informal campaigns to win Latinos saw then-first daughter Ivanka Trump pose with a can of Goya beans, as did Trump himself. A 2020 outreach song, moreover, featuring the line “Yo voy a votar por Donald Trump” went viral. Robert Unanue, President and Chief Executive Officer of Goya Foods – the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States – is a longtime Trump supporter.

Over the course of his presidency, Trump’s support among Hispanic voters appeared to increase modestly. He earned roughly 29% of the Latino vote in 2016 and ultimately earned 32% in 2020.

Is there opportunity?

In recent election cycles, the Hispanic vote has attracted greater attention, especially from the GOP, which has seen its performance with the group improve by modest, albeit steady margins. The 2022 midterms, especially, saw consistent headlines suggesting a surge in Latino support for the Republican Party. Partially driving those assertions was the surprise win of GOP Rep. Mayra Flores during a special election in a Texas border constituency. She ultimately lost the November general election, however, as the Republicans saw a lackluster midterm election.

A recent CBS News poll showed Biden earning 50% support among Latino voters to Trump’s 49% while 1% opted for “someone else/third party” and none were “not sure.” Conducted June 5-7, the survey questioned 2,063 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.

While recent polls, such as the CBS survey, have suggested that Trump may close the gap on Biden with Latino voters, at least one survey has painted a more complicated picture. In a recent poll from Voto Latino, Biden appeared to hold a sizeable lead over Trump in a one-on-one matchup, though his support fell considerably when third-party options entered the mix.

“So again, the headline saying that Latinos are trending Republican isn’t very new — it didn’t bear out in 2022, when we did that massive poll of 5,000 Latino voters in key battleground states, and it didn’t bear out last week in the poll that we did of 2,000 Latino voters in five battleground states,” Voto Latino CEO María Teresa Kumar told The Hill this week. 

“If you were to look at where Latinos are in battleground states, 59 percent of them are voting for Biden and 39 percent of them are voting for Trump,” she went on. “And our poll asked the thornier question, if we open up… including a third party, how does that poll? What we found was really alarming, in the sense that 14 percent of them would vote for a third party, with a majority of the votes being taken away from Biden. So instead of being at 59 percent, he dropped down to 49 percent. And Trump fell only 5 points.”

Key issues for Latinos

In announcing the Latino Americans for Trump coalition, Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Lara Trump asserted that “Latino Americans are leaving the Democrat Party behind because they know that Joe Biden has failed. From skyrocketing inflation and unaffordable housing to violent crime and open borders, all Americans are worse off under Biden.”

Both the CBS data and the Voto Latino survey appear to lend some credence to Lara Trump’s assertions about Latino disillusionment with the Democrats.

“What we’re finding is as more of a disillusionment because the economy is not changing fast enough for them to basically make ends meet, which is a real, which is a real challenge,” Kumar said.

In the CBS survey, Latino voters were generally likely to indicate that their economic situation had stagnated or worsened under the Biden administration. Twenty-seven percent said it had gotten a “lot worse,” 28% said it had gotten a “little worse,” 31% said it had “stayed about the same,” 11% indicated things had gotten a “little better,” and 3% said their situation had gotten a “lot better.”

Among that bloc, 70% identified crime as a “major factor” in determining their vote. Sixty-seven percent said the same of gun policy, 49% said so for abortion, 80% for the economy, and 55% for the U.S.-Mexico border. A further 77% said the same of inflation.

The survey also found some support for tighter immigration policies within the Hispanic community, with 69% expressing support for President Joe Biden’s recent executive order limiting asylum compared to 31% who opposed it. The Hispanic attitude was not materially different from the survey’s overall 70%-30% split on the issue.

Notably, 53% of Hispanics indicated they would support a “new national program to deport all undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally” while 47% opposed such a move.

Kumar, moreover, identified an unexpected trend in the Voto Latino survey, asserting that Biden’s lost support in favor of third parties appeared to stem from more progressive-minded voters.

“The second thing that was really surprising was that it was a defection not of Latino men going third party, but of Latinas going third party, who espouse socio economic social justice issues,” she said.

The Trump campaign referred Just the News to the Latino Americans for Trump website and press release when asked to comment.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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