For the first time in history, Hispanic voters are expected to be the largest minority group in the 2020 electorate, according to the Pew Research Center.
With his reelection on the line, it’s no surprise that President Donald Trump is publicly courting Hispanics. In fact, in late January, he touted a poll he claimed showed his support among Hispanics had risen from 19% to 50%, due to his immigration policies.
However, these rosy statistics are misleading, since the poll was not designed to gauge Hispanic voters’ opinions. It did not poll many Hispanics and did not ask questions in both English and Spanish.
As researchers who regularly examine public opinion, we know it’s a stretch to conclude that half of Hispanics approve of Trump, let alone suggest that a majority back his proposed immigration policies.
However, given their potential electoral impact, it is important to understand how Hispanics really feel about President Trump and how their opinions vary across party lines. We have done the work to try to answer these questions.
Hispanics on Trump
We analyzed the results of a University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll fielded by Nielsen Scarborough from Oct. 24 to Nov. 16, 2018. The survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 600 Hispanics, and it asked questions in both English and Spanish.
Simultaneously, we also fielded a national poll of 1,300 respondents representing all Americans. That allowed us to confidently analyze Hispanics’ opinions and compare them to other Americans.
Here’s what we found.
No, most Hispanic voters don’t back Trump and his policies. In fact, Hispanics oppose his immigration policies in larger numbers than the rest of the population.
For example, right before the 2018 midterm election, we asked respondents to identify the most important factor in their vote choice. Among Hispanics, the most popular choice was “a vote against President Trump and his agenda,” with 39% of Hispanics selecting this option, compared to 32% of non-Hispanics.
However, Hispanic preferences do diverge across partisan lines. Over half of Hispanics who aren’t Republicans said “a vote against President Trump and his agenda” was their main reason for voting. Conversely, 45% of Hispanic Republicans chose “a vote to support President Trump and his agenda” as the most important reason for their vote – a significant number, but still lower than the number of non-Hispanic Republicans who said the same.
Thoughts on immigration
Attitudes toward the president’s immigration policies were also striking.
We asked respondents, “Would you say immigration helps the U.S. more than it hurts it, or immigration hurts the U.S. more than it helps it?” Just over half of Hispanics said that immigration helps the U.S. more than it hurts it. Meanwhile, 35% of non-Hispanics said the same.