Donald Trump’s “Latino outreach” has ranged from the insulting (remember his Trump Tower taco bowl?) to the deadly (ignoring the crisis in Puerto Rico). In between that, his immoral mass deportation force has swept up thousands of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record, despite his claims he would target only “bad hombres.” Now on the heels of Hurricane Maria, Trump has unveiled Stephen Miller’s white supremacist immigration wish list, which Republican strategists fear will further widen the chasm between them and Latinos voters, “a rift that many in his party fear will do lasting damage to the GOP’s ability to win future elections”:
Trump’s hostile rhetoric and actions toward Latinos, Republican strategists say, could not only undercut candidates in competitive 2018 races and make the White House harder to retain in 2020 but also further tarnish a GOP brand that party leaders have struggled for years to sell to skeptical Latino voters.
“A whole generation of minority voters is essentially hearing the GOP tell them, ‘We don’t like you,’ ” said Doug Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Committee. “That might not have sunk the GOP against a flawed candidate like Hillary Clinton, but the demographics are moving into a direction where this will be political suicide.”
“Trump’s actions have already hurt Republicans’ ability to recruit Latino candidates to run for local and state offices,” notes the Washington Post. “And they’ve become fodder in the Virginia governor’s race, as well as contests in states such as New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Florida, where an energized Latino turnout could tip what are expected to be competitive elections next year.” And according to leading polling firm Latino Decisions, “despite being a relatively conservative population, Florida Latinos are showing signs of pan-ethnic solidarity, particularly on immigration.” Now, scores are set to leave the party over anti-Latino animus.
According to a new poll released by Latino Victory Project, Latino Decisions, and America’s Voice, a clear majority of Florida Latinos – 64 percent – disapprove of President Donald Trump’s performance and 7 out 10 believe the Republican Party doesn’t care about or is hostile toward Latinos. Additionally, more than one-third of Florida Latinos said the GOP is so anti-Latino that they could no longer support the party.
In fact, a former Apprentice contestant “lost a special Florida state senate race last month in a heavily Latino Miami-area district that flipped from red to blue.” Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz had ties to Trump he proudly touted but then deleted a selfie of the two following an uproar from Democrats. Last month, Annette Taddeo defeated him to become the first Latina Democrat elected to the state senate.
In Virginia, which popular vote winner Hillary Clinton took in 2016, Trump’s low approval rating is leaving Republican Ed Gillespie to try to be as Trumpesque as possible without being Trumpian:
In Virginia, which will elect a new governor next month, Trump waded into the campaign by endorsing GOP candidate Ed Gillespie in a tweet — which also charged that Democrat Ralph Northam supports the MS-13 street gang — all while Gillespie is airing TV ads that seek to tie Northam, Virginia’s lieutenant governor, to the violent gang, whose membership is mostly Latino.
Claims in the ad have been labeled misleading by nonpartisan fact-checkers and racist by immigration advocates. At issue is a tiebreaking vote Northam cast in the state Senate against a bill that would have banned sanctuary cities. But Virginia does not have any such municipalities, a fact Gillespie has acknowledged.
And, Gillespie has yet to tweet about Trump’s ringing endorsement.
Most notably, Trump’s handling of the devastating crisis in Puerto Rico has been criminally negligent, golfing in New Jersey as the mayor of San Juan pleads for water, food, and supplies for Americans. When he finally did leave the golf course for a short tour of Puerto Rico (where he was more interested in hearing praise than problems), he “appeared insensitive by tossing rolls of paper towels at victims of Hurricane Maria.” Presidential.
This will no doubt resonate with Latinos. Trump’s Latino vote share in 2016 was an abysmal 19 percent, the lowest for any presidential candidate according to Latino Decisions. Now his 16 percent approval rating among the demographic is sending candidates in his party into a panic.