Judging from the latest primary results and new polls that have just come out, I have a growing feeling that Latinos will save America from Donald Trump.
There is little question following the April 26 primary elections in Pennsylvania and four other states that Trump will be the Republican candidate for November’s presidential elections. And if he is defeated by Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, it will be largely thanks to the Latino vote.
Consider a new poll by Latino Decisions, a nationwide survey of 2,200 registered Latino voters: It shows that a whopping 87 percent of Hispanics have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. Just in case you are wondering, the poll has a margin of error of 2.1 percent.
Trump’s standing among Latino voters has been falling steadily since the very day he announced his run for the presidency on June 16, 2015, and said that most Mexicans are “rapists” and that they “bring drugs and crime” to the United States.
His rhetoric against Mexicans — perhaps influenced by his failed business project in Baja California in 2008 — and other undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Hispanics, has escalated since.
Despite having been told a thousand times that his narrative about an avalanche of undocumented Mexicans coming to the United States is inaccurate — in fact, U.S. Census figures show the flow of Mexicans is significantly down from 2008 — Trump is repeating his fear-mongering tale in almost every speech.
He calls for the mass deportation of more than 11 million undocumented migrants, proposes to build a wall on the border with Mexico, and wants to slap a 35 percent import tax on Mexican products. So far, his audiences love it.
Bur, remember, he has been talking to a limited audience of right-wing Republican primary voters. In a general election, he may come to regret his Mexico-bashing and anti-immigrant tirades.
The Latino vote will be critical in the November election. The percentage of Latino voters nationwide is projected to skyrocket from 3.9 percent in 1992 to nearly 10 percent in 2016, according to a recent study by City University of New York and CNN en Español.
More importantly, Latinos are concentrated in 10 states that have the largest number of votes in the electoral college. They will exceed 10 percent of voters in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York and Texas.
And Clinton is doing much better than Trump among Hispanics: 61 percent of those polled nationwide say they have a favorable opinion of Clinton, while only 9 percent have a favorable opinion of Trump, the Latino Decision survey shows.
So how can Trump win without the Latino vote? Trump supporters say that he will make up for his shortage of Latino voters by drawing millions of angry white Republicans and so-called Reagan Democrats who have not voted in recent elections to the polls in November. These voters are energized by Trump’s “America First” nationalist-populist campaign claiming that Mexicans, Muslims and European and Asian governments that are getting U.S. military aid are to blame for America’s problems.
“The Republican Party is up about 70 percent from four years ago,” Trump boasted in his April 26 victory speech after winning the primaries in Pennsylvania and four other states, referring to the turnout in this year’s primary races. These new voters will propel Trump to victory, regardless of the Latino vote, the Trump camp says.
My opinion: Even if Trump changes his image and moderates his rhetoric to look more “presidential” in coming months, his math won’t work. His constituency of largely angry white males won’t be enough to compensate for his scant support among women and black voters, and for his disastrous one-digit support among Latinos.
Trump’s argument that he is drawing record numbers of Republicans to the polls is true, but he fails to point out that the Democrats’ turnout has also gone up. According to the Pew Research Center, overall Republican turnout this year’s primaries is 7.5 percent higher than in 2012, while Democrats’ turnout is up by 5.4 percentage points.
Most importantly, Trump’s xenophobia — if not racism — is likely to mobilize Latino voters like never before, because they will feel threatened by him. Hispanics will vote in record numbers in November. And, rather than being a threat to America, they will save America from Trump.
Watch the “Oppenheimer Presenta” tv show Sundays at 9 p.m. on CNN en Español. Twitter: @oppenheimera
Watch “Oppenheimer Presenta” Sundays at 9 p.m. on CNN en Español