Are Latino voters primed to vote for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, or Jill Stein? Or maybe they won’t vote at all? Or perhaps they’ll stage a personal protest with a write-in candidate?
The answer is “Yes.” On Tuesday, just like other Americans, Latinos will do all of the above. We’re not monolithic.
Just in my circle of Latino friends, I’ve got people who will vote for Clinton, Trump, Johnson, and Stein. I know one-time supporters of Bernie Sanders who plan to skip the top line on the ballot, because they can’t support Clinton. I know plenty of Republicans who have always been, and remain, “Never Trump”; some tell me they’re voting for Clinton.
In the main event, Clinton has a wide lead over Trump with Latino voters. The Democratic nominee might even set the new high water mark, snagging nearly 80 percent of Latino voters.
President Obama got 75 percent of Latino votes in 2012, and Bill Clinton got 72 percent in 1996.
According to a recent poll by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund and Noticias Telemundo, Clinton has a 60-point lead over Trump with Latinos—74 percent to 14 percent.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll gives Clinton a 50-point lead over Trump among Latinos, 67 percent to 17 percent.
One thing that may have contributed to those lopsided percentages is the fact that the nation’s largest and most profitable Spanish-language television network has, during this election, transformed itself into a high-tech voter registration project and veritable satellite office of the Clinton campaign. At Univision, the revulsion for Trump—and all he represents—is so strong that journalists have become activists.
As a result, “Destino 2016”—the network’s election coverage—includes its largest-ever political team of reporters, producers and digital journalists.
And it could be showing results. According to data accumulated by The New York Times, there seems to be a surge in early voting by Latinos in key swing states such as Colorado, Florida and Nevada—something that could bode well for Clinton.
For many Latinos, this is payback time. Thanks to Trump, they’ve been attacked, maligned and humiliated in this election.
Over the last 17 months, the Republican nominee has labeled Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists, threatened to make Mexico pay for a giant wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, vowed to deny birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born children of the undocumented, pledged to create a “deportation force” to remove the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, insisted that U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel couldn’t be fair because the U.S.-born jurist is “a Mexican,” doubled down on earlier insults of Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado of Venezuela for gaining weight, and topped it all off with a final jab during one of the debates when he promised to deport those illegal immigrants who are “bad hombres.”
Now, on behalf of Hillary Clinton and her supporters, they have to endure one last indignity in this dreadful election. Along with women and other “people of color”—basically, anyone who isn’t a white male—they’re being asked to defeat Trump, elect Clinton, and rescue the republic.
Really? Must we do everything? It’s not enough that Latinos cook America’s food and clean America’s kitchen. Now they also have to save America’s bacon?
How exhausting. When is America’s largest minority supposed to find time to lay around on the couch, get on welfare, and soak up freebies like ill-informed Trump voters think we do?
Liberals are counting on us to vote—and spare the country the nightmare of a Trump presidency.
So declared a left-leaning white friend, who is so pro-Hillary that she’d vote twice if she could for the former secretary of state. We were talking about who was likely to win the election.
“Well, we have the Latinos,” she said with a burst of confidence. “Of course, we have to get them out to vote.”
I heard much the same thing from Ana Marie Cox, MTV Senior Political Correspondent. [pretty sure she hasn’t written for the Beast for a good while]
“I mean, women and people of color are going to save this nation basically because we’re the ones that are immune to the call of this, you know, schizophrenic psychopath bigot,” said Cox during an appearance on MSNBC.
And while Michael Moore—a one-time Sanders enthusiast and now surprisingly un-reluctant [did you see him on Hardball? He gushed about her!] Clinton supporter—worries about the appeal that Trump has with working-class whites in Rust Belt states like Moore’s native Michigan, the documentary filmmaker is banking on people who look nothing like him to save the country.
“My optimism is based on the fact that we now live in a country that is 77 percent of this country is either women or people of color or young adults between the ages of 18 and 35, and he has offended all three of these groups,” Moore said recently during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Honestly, I find all of this more than a bit patronizing. Latinos shouldn’t have to vote one way or another, or be expected to support one candidate over another. Where’s the suspense? And maybe instead of counting on us to dutifully support your candidate—simply because the other contender has behaved atrociously—someone could take five minutes and make the case as to why Clinton deserves our votes. Or Clinton herself could—on issues ranging from education to trade to immigration—make more of an effort to propose policies that are more in line with the concerns and priorities of Latinos.
We typically don’t get any of that from Clinton. All we get is the boogeyman strategy, where Democrats try to get our support by not offering us anything but a reminder of all the reasons why we can’t possibly support Trump.
We know all that already. But what is Clinton offering instead?
This approach was on full display during Clinton’s speech to a mostly Latino crowd last week at Arizona State University. Rather than make the case for why Latinos should vote for her, the Democratic nominee simply asked them to imagine what their lives would be like if Trump were in the White House given how he has conducted himself during this campaign.
“If you’re an immigrant, or your parents or grandparents are immigrants—like my grandfather was—you know how you will be treated and what you will be thought of,” Clinton said. “We’d have a president who has shown very clearly what he thinks of immigrants…And if you’re Latino, you know what life would be like. Because we’d have a president who doesn’t see you as American at all.”
That’s all well and good. But what I want to know, and what no one in the Clinton campaign has bothered to explain to Latinos with any specificity is this: How does Clinton see us? More importantly, does she hear us? Does she know what we want—beyond immigration reform, like a strong economy and accountability in our schools? And will she give it to us?
To borrow a phrase from an iconic figure of the Democratic Party, Clinton and her supporters should ask not what Latinos will do for them but what they have done for Latinos.