A recent piece at The Daily Dot tries to explain Donald Trump’s “surprising” 13 percent support among Latinos. The “explanations” are that Latinos are a diverse bunch and that because Trumps scapegoats Mexicans, many Latinos still “mysteriously” favor him. Of course, 13 percent is small. In a sample of 250 voters (the number of Latinos in the survey cited), this is about 35 people.
I don’t think that fining 13 percent of Latino voters supporting Trump is surprising at all. Trump has a high level of name recognition among all Americans. Many Latinos in the US and people in Latin America recognize Trump for his Miss Universe pageant. I still recall during my teenage years when I was living in Puerto Rico and Miss Universe was a big deal and the local press would highlight whatever the Donald said about our representative. His statement was always flattering the beauty of the contestant since the Donald only cares about the looks of women. The pageant was not just popular in Puerto Rico, but through the region.
Rather than the 13 percent who would vote for Trump, I am surprised by how much attention his statements about Mexican immigrants have received. A recent Univision poll shows that 90 percent of Latinos know about the statements, 71 percent of Latinos have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, and that 79 percent of Latinos find the comments offensive. This latter number includes 77 percent of Latinos who are NOT of Mexican descent. Many Latinos are savvy enough to realize that ignorant bigots use “Mexican” to refer to any type of brown person with an accent where the “Rs” are rather strong.
The Donald’s campaign is highlighting an ugly side of the Republican coalition. At a time when the GOP thinks it is necessary to improve relations with Latino communities, Trump’s surge to the lead at the polls shows the disconnect between some of the party elites’ goals and the rank-and-file feelings. Most Latinos do not identify as Republican and most people in general do not pay attention to the Presidential Elections until they are well underway. But Trump’s statements have made Latinos pay attention to what would be an obscure affair to most of them. And that’s the real surprise of Trump’s run.
Featured image: Donald Trump tours the US-Mexico border (Source: NBC News)