With Florida’s Cuban population, the state’s Latino vote has generally skewed more conservative than other states with large groups of Hispanics.
In the Donald Trump era, new polling shows that’s no longer the case.
Taken two weeks ago, a Latino Victory-Latino Decisions poll of 369 Florida Latinos gives only 36 percent support to the president; 64 percent oppose his efforts in the first eight months of the Trump administration.
Polling also showed only 21 percent saying they “generally agree” with the GOP on most issues and are likely to vote Republican in the future. Another 35 percent felt that the Republican Party was so anti-Latino they will never support them in the future.
“I want to say that we expected Florida to be an outlier. Florida had been a Republican Latino stronghold for generations, but attitudes have shifted in the last eight months,” said Cristóbal J. Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, during a conference call.
“Despite being a more conservative population, relative to other Latinos in the U.S., this poll finds that a clear majority of Latinos in Florida are upset and oppose Trump policies,” said pollster Matt Barreto, co-founder of Latino Decisions.
Referring to Trump’s pardon of controversial former Phoenix, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his rescission of President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) program, Alex said the president “hasn’t missed an opportunity to demonstrate his disdain for Latinos,” which helped unite the country’s disparate Latino groups.
“The poll is significant because it’s proof that President Trump and the Republican Party are alienating Latinos of all backgrounds and all political stripes,” said Congressman Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat.
Soto cited Trump’s “terrible tweets” in the past week about Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. They had been “ricocheting and reverberating” across the state, he said.
The poll showed that only 20 percent of those surveyed believed Trump’s comments about the violence which occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August was strong enough, while 64 percent said they didn’t go far enough.
Soto said that Latino groups are now looking at a Trump attack one group as an attack on the entire demographic, particularly incendiary comments made during his campaign kickoff in summer 2015.
It was then Trump famously talked about Mexicans crossing the border: “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
“It’s going to have a big effect when it comes to the election in 2018,” Soto said, referring to Democrat Annette Taddeo‘s victory last week over state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in the hotly contested state Senate District 40 race in Miami-Dade County.
In her win, Taddeo became the first Latina-Democrat in the Legislature’s upper chamber.
The poll also shows 74 percent of Florida Latinos opposed Arpaio’s pardon; only 32 percent support a proposed border wall on the Mexican border. Taddeo says the pardon sent the message that, in Trump’s eyes, “looking Latino or speaking Spanish is reason enough to detain anyone, including U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.”
However, a platform of opposing Trump in 2018 won’t be enough for Florida Democrats, Taddeo said.
“We need to give Latinos and all Americans a reason to vote Democrat,” she said, adding that part of her winning platform was talking about the quality of public schools, access to health care, affordable housing and retiring with dignity.
The bilingual survey of 369 Florida Latinos, taken between Sept. 12-19, carries a 5.1 percent margin of error. The poll did not list the breakdown of Republicans versus Democrats surveyed. Instead, full data was weighted to match the adult population in the 2015 census for age, gender, education, nativity, ancestry and voter registration. The poll is scheduled to be posted on the website of Latino Decisions later Wednesday.