Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen how Republicans fear and loathe America’s diverse future, while Democrats embrace it. Four years ago, the Republicans issued a report arguing that they needed to make their peace with immigrants or continue riding the waves to political oblivion. Bad news for the Republicans: the future is now.
Here is the estimated Latino vote for President nationally and in selected states in 2012. The source is an election eve poll from Latino Decisions, the nation’s premier pollster of Latino voters:
Pew reports that the Latino electorate will by 17% bigger in 2016 than in 2012. In concrete terms, this means that there will be 3.97 million more eligible Latino voters. This exceeds the 3.22 million increase in the much larger white population. So the Republican political imperative to grab a higher share of the Latino vote only continues to grow.
Just in case you missed it, Trump went after immigrants not just from Mexico, source of roughly 60% of Latino immigrants, but also all of Latin America in his opening announcement:
Again, he has not shied away from demonizing immigrants throughout the campaign. His infamous wall that Mexico will pay for (does he know we already have walls along much of the border?) is his one concrete policy proposal. Trump’s speech at the RNC despicably singled out the highly vulnerable population of 11 million undocumented immigrants as the source of American crime:
Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens. . . .
One such border-crosser was released and made his way to Nebraska. There, he ended the life of an innocent young girl named Sarah Root. She was 21 years-old, and was killed the day after graduating from college with a 4.0 Grade Point Average. Her killer was then released a second time, and he is now a fugitive from the law.
I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family. But to this Administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders. What about our economy?
As it turns out, immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than other Americans. For some reason, undocumented immigrants would rather avoid the authorities. Go figure.
These attacks on immigrants are particularly damaging because so many Latinos live in mixed status families. Even Latinos who don’t see these tactics as demonization of them as a group. We’ve seen the political effect of this in the past.
The Pete Wilson Effect
When Republican California Gov. Pete Wilson ran this ad attacking immigrants sneaking over the border and supported anti-immigrant Proposition 187, the share of Latinos newly registering as Republicans dropped dramatically:
For those who don’t remember the days of yore, California voted Republican in every presidential election from 1968 through 1988. Now, it is a safe Democratic state and Republicans don’t even bother. Pete Wilson’s tactics rendered the largest state in the Union a noncompetitive Democratic bastion.
The Power of the Latino Vote
Latino Decisions has helpfully outlined just how bleak the demographics are for Republicans in a series of figures that estimate the share of the Latino vote that Trump would need to win in 2016. The first shows the worst case for the Republicans, as it assumes that turnout rates among all demographic groups remain unchanged from 2012 and that support rates among non-Latino groups for the Republicans also remain the same.
Trump would need 52% of the Latino vote–far higher than the share of the Latino vote than George W. Bush, who was pro-immigration reform and spoke positively of Latinos, received. In the words of George H.W. Bush and Dana Carvey, he’s not gonna do it:
Republicans, however, have hopes that the electorate will vote differently than 2012. In Scenario 2, Latino Decisions looks at the share of the Latino vote that Trump will need assuming that African-American turnout and Democratic support declines to pre-Obama levels:
Latino Decisions Scenario 3 is the most hopeful for Trumpistas. In addition to a decline in black turnout and Democratic support, it assumes that the Latino vote grows at a slower rate than expected and that whites vote as solidly for Trump in 2016 as they did for Republicans in the banner midterm election of 2014: