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More Latinos voted in 2020 compared to the previous presidential cycle but this was coupled with increase in support for Trump. Photo: Getty Images.
More Latinos voted in 2020 compared to the previous presidential cycle but this was coupled with an increase in support for Donald Trump. Photo: Getty Images.

Trump made inroads with the Latino community and could appeal to them ahead of a potential third run

Pew Research found that the former president gained more support with Latino voters in his second run despite his anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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Former president Donald Trump has said that he has made up his mind on running a third time in 2024, but is waiting to make his announcement because he believes it is too early. 

If Trump does choose to enter the race, his campaign will want to tap into the gains they made with Latino voters from 2016 to his failed reelection attempt in 2020. 

Pew Research found that even though he lost against Joe Biden in 2020, the former reality television star improved his standing with Latinos, as their support for him increased from 28% in 2016 to 38% in the most recent election. 

This 10 point bump is even concerning for Democratic strategists, since the demographic had a higher voter turnout last year than the previous presidential election. 

When Hillary Clinton lost only 47.4% of Latinos came out to the polls, but Trump’s campaigning since then has helped the figure rise to 53.7%. 

Last year also saw a dramatic rise in voter registration, with over 61% of adult Latino citizens adding their names to electoral rolls compared to less than 58% in 2016. 

Democrats still maintain strong support from Blacks with 92% of them voting for Biden in 2020. 

Liberals may be confused as to how Trump was able to capture more Latino voters this time round since he has a hardline stance on immigration, but some nuance on the issue may be required. 

Immigration reform does not directly affect a Latino voter since by law, to cast a vote in America they need to be a citizen. 

Media has painted the demographic as one that is mainly made up of undocumented immigrants when that is not the case. 

According to Census data, Latinos and Hispanics represent nearly a fifth of the country’s population, at around 61 million people. 

The entire undocumented population, which includes more than just Hispanics, is estimated to be 11.5 million, meaning the overwhelming majority of U.S. Latinos have some form of legal status. 

A different Pew Research finding released almost before the recent presidential election showed that immigration has become a low-ranking issue for Latinos, and Trump has managed to tap into what they prioritize.

Why Latinos Support Trump

Before the pandemic, the former president touted the state of the American economy as one his  biggest successes during his time in office. 

The economy is an issue that is highly prioritized by people across all demographics because of how important employment opportunities, inflation and stability are for any country. 

During Trump’s first three years, the unemployment rate continuously decreased and even reached 3.5% in February 2020, a month before the pandemic forced lockdowns. 

The 45th president takes credit for this achievement, but the trend started early in the Obama administration with efforts to recover from the 2008 financial crisis.

In the end, Trump made The American Dream seem more attainable with everyone employed, but two key policies that have yet to be implemented that are crucial to this goal being realized for millions.  

Both he and his party do not support raising the federal minimum wage or providing universal health coverage through expanding the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care), or creating a single-payer option. 

These policies are evidently popular with a community that mainly works in low-wage jobs and where one in five lack health insurance, but with Democrats falling short on implementing these proposals, Latinos settle for the high employment numbers seen under the former president.  

His commitment to the pro-life stance and fear mongering on American schools might also be tapping how religious the demographic is. 

Studies suggest that 85% of Latinos in the U.S. are at least fairly certain that they believe in God, and nearly three in five view religion as a very important element of their lives. 

Republicans might believe they can circumvent Latinos’ support of more liberal economic policies by appealing to their more conservative social beliefs. 

In January 2020, Trump issued a new guidance for public schools that defended the rights for students to pray in public schools. 

Another attack from him against the public school system points to a notable divide in the Latino community. 

Trump formed the 1776 Commission late into his presidency to refute the teaching of critical race theory and systemic racism in classrooms, since he views it as liberal indoctrination. 

These teachings analyze America’s checkered past with peace, but conservative politicians believe that they make students antagonistic towards the country’s exceptionalism or whiteness. 

Paola Ramos, former aide to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, believes that Democrats are losing support because of a divide Trump tapped into.  

“On the one hand you have Latinos that believe in order to achieve the American Dream you have to get as close as possible to whiteness, and that is something that Trump gave them permission to do. And on the other hand you have Latinos who believe that in order to achieve the American Dream you have to get as far as possible from whiteness,” she told MSNBC

Trump’s continuous public condemnation of left-wing authoritarian leaders in Latin America captivates those who fled conflicts across the region. 

Strategically, he came after the authoritarian leaders of countries whose expats represent a great portion of a crucial swing state’s Latino population —his being the Cuban and Venezuelan communities in Florida. 

Against Venezuela, the former president placed its oil and natural gas since both are the country’s main export. He also brought opposition leader Juan Guaidó to his last State of Union to legitimize him and claim he was the true leader of Venezuela. 

With Cuba, Trump wanted to counteract Obama’s efforts to open diplomatic relations with the island. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in January that Cuba was placed on the lists of “state sponsors of terrorism” alongside North Korea and Syria.

Biden has since undone this action, but during the 2020 presidential race, his opponent aggressively tried to liken his views to the socialism seen in modern day Nicaragua and Venezuela when he was not even on board with many of the Democratic Socialist policies promoted by his primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders.  

Unfortunately for Democrats, that messaging stuck and if the current administration does not learn to update how they view the Latino community, Trump could make more inroads with their voters. 

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