Most people questioned President Trump’s tweet on January 20th. He wrote that he had reached 50 percent approval from Hispanic-Americans. After all, he was the presidential candidate that accused Mexico of sending “rapists” across the border, the same man who ordered refugee children separated from their parents, the same man who has made building a wall to shut out migrants the focal point of his presidency.
But he posted with his usual confidence: “Wow, just heard that my poll numbers with Hispanics has gone up 19%, to 50%. That is because they know the Border issue better than anyone, and they want Security, which can only be gotten with a Wall.”
The pollsters responsible for the data Trump was referencing—Marist Institute for Public Opinion, for NPR and “PBS NewsHour”— ended up cautioning of the high margin of error for that subset, and a possible over-sampling of Republicans. So many on the left promptly dismissed it as an anomaly.
But here it is a month later and Trump is now going for Hispanic-American votes in Florida and beyond. And, polls suggest Marist might have been onto something. So now Democrats should be worried that Hispanic voters could help reelect Trump and keep the Senate in Republican control.
2020 will be the first U.S. election in which Hispanics make up the largest racial or ethnic minority in the electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. Pew estimates that 32 million Hispanics will be eligible to vote—a full 2 million more than eligible black voters and more than 13 percent of the electorate. Hispanics figure to constitute at least 11 percent of the national vote, as they did in 2016 and 2018.
Even though many expected Hispanics to vote against Trump in 2016, a Latino Decisions poll conducted just before the 2016 presidential election found Trump had the support of just 18 percent of Hispanics. But the actual figure was 28 percent. That was just as good as Mitt Romney, as the 2012 Republican nominee, did with Hispanics—and it was enough to help Trump squeak an Electoral College victory.
If Hispanic Americans are in fact showing surging approval of Trump, he could be on his way to matching or exceeding the 40 percent won by George W. Bush in his 2004. If Trump does 12 percentage points better than his 2016 numbers with the growing Hispanic vote, it pretty much takes Florida, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina off the table for Democrats, who would need to sweep Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to reach the 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House.
And if the Democratic path to the presidency looks difficult without overwhelming Hispanic support, control of the Senate looks next to impossible.
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found Trump’s approval rebounding to 45 percent overall, with Hispanic approval jumping sharply—to 42 percent, after going as low as 22 percent on January 21.