Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Not For The Votes

There are three reasons Democrats must not relent in their opposition to a hard, concrete or steel wall. They are: 1) the wall is a bad idea; 2) if blackmail works, it will be repeated, and Trump will demand something significant in return for agreeing to raise the debt limit in the future; 3) opposition to the wall is good politics because the Latino vote is pivotal.

Make that two reasons.  The first clue should have been the vote for President in 2016, soon after which Pew reported

Hillary Clinton won 66% of Latino voters on Election Day, according to updated National Election Pool exit poll data, a level of Democratic support similar to 2008, when 67% of Hispanics backed Barack Obama. However, Clinton’s share of the Latino vote was lower than in 2012, when 71% of Latinos voted to re-elect Obama.

While Clinton underperformed among Latinos compared with 2012, Republican Donald Trump won 28% of the Latino vote, a similar share to 2012, when Mitt Romney won 27%, and to 2008, when John McCain won 31%, according to exit polls.

When Donald Trump descended from the escalator and announced for the job in July of 2015, he claimed that Mexico is

sending people that have a lot of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Candidate Trump's shtick was asking at his rally "who's going to build the wall" and with the audience answering "Mexico." President Trump still blames immigrants and refugees for America's crime and drug problem.

Contrast that to Mitt Romney's 2012 position, which he explained as

The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here. And so we're not going to round people up.

Shorter Romney: Please leave- and if you don't, well, o.k. Not terribly threatening, there.

Not all Latino voters in the USA are of Mexican background. However, it is the largest group and it took no imagination for Latinos, whites, blacks, and Asian-Americans to conclude that candidate Donald Trump was not going to sit by passively while non-Hispanic whites of whatever background became a shrinking share of the population. Then, Trump improved upon Romney's share of the hispanic/Latino vote.  (Regrettably, Pew did not distinguish between Latinos and hispanics.)

That's not the only reason that a policy of goodwill toward Latinos, characterized by opposition to the Trumpian wall, may not be the great political strategy most of us have assumed it is.

In a Marist/NPR/PBS poll released Tuesday, 50% of Latinos stated that they approve of Donald Trump's performance as president.

Because the poll focused on the views of the electorate as a whole rather than specifically on those of Latinos or hispanics, only 153 "Latino Americans" were surveyed, and the margin of error was a whopping 9.9 percent.

So the percentage of Latinos/hispanics approving of Donald Trump's performance may be as low as 40.1%. Even this, however, is slightly higher than the percentage of voters (39,9%overall giving him a thumbs-up.

This survey took place while the biggest political issue in the nation was the shutdown/wall, and Latinos recorded greater support for Trump's job performance than did other Americans.  Bonus fact:  exit surveys in 2016 showed more support for Trump than did pre-election polls, suggesting that hispanics may be wary of admitting to pollsters their support of Donald Trump, perhaps because he is overtly anti-Latino. (He's kicking people like me in our rear ends. Sure, he's doing a good job.)

Local and state Democratic candidates have to do what they have to do. Variables may be different in November 2020 than they were in November 2016 or even are currently, and support for causes dear to the Latin-American community may possibly turn out to be determinative, especially in, say, Nevada. And the wall would be tremendously costly, under-achieving, and a lousy symbol for the nation.

However, it is not unreasonable to suggest of the Democratic Party, covetous of Latino voters: they're just not that into you.

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