Politics & Policy

The Trump Hispanic Meltdown Never Happened

Sign at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Reuters photo: Carlo Allegri)
His problem with Hispanic voters was greatly exaggerated.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, the media continually lectured Republicans that Donald Trump would doom the GOP with Hispanics — the theme was pushed constantly on both Spanish- and English-language media — and the media regularly referred to Trump as a bigot. The media also never wasted a chance to whip up Hispanic anger at Trump and to shame and isolate his Hispanic supporters, treating those who valued patriotism more than ethnic activism like zoo exhibits.

Numerous of the GOP’s Hispanic spokespeople were little better. They rent their garments over Trump’s commonsense approach to securing America’s border and screamed bloody murder when he talked about the dangers of sanctuary cities and illegal-alien crime. Univision, America’s most prominent Spanish-language TV network all but carried out a war against Trump, and it was one of the highlights of the campaign for many conservatives when Trump kicked Univision’s star anchor, the obnoxious left-wing activist Jorge Ramos (whose daughter worked for the Clinton campaign and whose job depends on keeping U.S. Hispanics speaking Spanish rather than English) out of a press conference that Ramos had been disrupting.

But while the media and pundits predicted doom for Trump’s chances with Hispanics,, a funny thing happened on the way to the voting booth. The Trump Hispanic meltdown never happened. According to exit polls, Trump lost Hispanics 65–29, besting the performance of the mild-mannered and courtly Mitt Romney, who, despite being about as likely to utter an ethnic slur as Pope Francis, lost Hispanics 7227. In fact, the demographic in which Trump most struggled compared with Romney was in white college graduates, which was more than offset by his overwhelming dominance among in white non-college voters. While in the long term the GOP obviously needs to perform better among Hispanics, if you’re surprised that Trump bested Romney, it’s probably because you’ve been drinking the pro-amnesty Chamber of Commerce Kool-Aid.

Trump’s performance among Hispanics revealed what the amnesty crowd wants to keep secret: It’s not the GOP nominee’s view of immigration that drives Hispanic GOP Democratic votes. It’s that Hispanics are liberal and and that they have voted heavily and consistently Democratic for decades. Voting for amnesty isn’t going to make them Republicans, so the GOP should stop trying to do it.

There are a couple of qualifiers here that are important to note. While Hispanics supported Obama at 72 percent in 2012, native-born Hispanics whose parents are also native-born gave him just 58 percent. This suggests that as native-born Hispanics make up an increasingly large percentage of Hispanic voters, the GOP’s performance with them should improve.

Furthermore a significant percentage of those with Hispanic ancestry do not check off boxes or consider themselves Hispanic. Those voters, unsurprisingly, are more likely to be conservative. This phenomenon also ensures that polling understates Hispanic support for GOP candidates. So, as native-born Hispanics become an increasingly large percentage of the Hispanic population over time, those voters will potentially tilt more to the right. And of course, the best thing that would help with that transition is for a President Trump to spearhad a movement to stop affirmative action and all other racial preferences in their tracks. If you remove the incentives for people to not assimilate and consider themselves different from their fellow Americans, eventually they’ll stop doing it. If you really want to get rid of ethnic identity politics, get the government out of the racial-preferences business.

GOP amnesty supporters are licking their wounds. They had been waiting with bated breath to launch their all-out assault against America’s borders, but American voters had other plans. The GOP (and President-elect Trump) most certainly need to improve our outreach to Hispanics and to make a compelling case to them that GOP values — the devotion to family and free enterprise that have made America great — should be their values as well. But this election didn’t show the importance of amnesty for winning the Hispanic vote. It showed its relative irrelevance.

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