Saturday, November 25, 2017

Digging His Own Grave, Trump’s Relationship with Latino Voters

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.”

The latest source of tension is the president’s announcement that he plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In just the past few weeks, Trump has offered a cringe-worthy pronunciation of “Puerto Rico” while speaking at a Hispanic Heritage Month event, appeared insensitive by tossing rolls of paper towels at victims of Hurricane Maria and persisted in a feud with the mayor of San Juan, who has begged for more assistance in the wake of the storm. The president — whose job-approval rating has dipped to 16 percent among Hispanics, according to Gallup — also became a central issue in a special Florida state Senate race last month in a heavily Latino Miami-area district that flipped from red to blue.

Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said she expects Democrats to continue to make links between their GOP opponents and Trump. “It’s not just on immigration,” she said. There is a whole list of fuel that includes kicking off his campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists,” and his pardon in August of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was held in contempt of court for racial profiling. “Hurricane Maria didn’t help” Duffy added.

An Associated Press poll found that Trump received particularly low marks from Hispanics for his handling of the storm response. Roughly 1 in 3 Americans overall approved of the response, while about 1 in 5 Hispanics did. Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP strategist, said the problem with Trump’s response is that it gives Latino voters something vivid to remember, much as George W. Bush’s detached response to Hurricane Katrina.

 

The Washington Post

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