It was a small news story, easily overlooked in the crazed cacaphony of this presidential campaign. A small story that signaled something big:
Last week, a woman named Ruth Guerra quit her job. She worked for the Republican National Committee, helming Hispanic media relations – a noteworthy job, at least on paper, because the RNC had vowed, after Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, to forge close ties with America’s burgeoning Hispanic electorate. But Guerra reportedly quit because she could no longer stomach the task of defending a presidential nominee who constantly attacked Hispanics.
In Donald Trump’s upside-down Orwellian world, he insists (this is an actual quote) that “the Hispanics love me.” Anyone who believes that probably has a degree from Trump University. His incessant drumbeat of derision – from last summer’s sliming of Mexican undocumented immigrants as “rapists” to this spring’s maligning of an American judge as “Mexican” – has cratered his approval rating in the Hispanic community. No other Republican nominee, in the annals of modern polling, has come close to matching his sick stats.
This has profound implications for the ’16 election. Hispanic voters are pivotal (or potentially so) in Colorado, Nevada, Florida, New Mexico, and Virginia – all of which used to be Republican strongholds. Romney lost them all in ’12. Trump, by doubling down on bigotry, is well positioned to do the same. A white racist whose appeal is mostly limited to a subset of white people cannot win the presidency, not in this pluralistic century.
Last Sunday, Mitch McConnell basically confirmed that truism. On NBC News, he likened Trump to Barry Goldwater, the 1964 nominee whose Senate vote against the landmark Civil Rights Act triggered the mass exodus of blacks to the Democratic party, “and we’ve never been able to get them back.” And this year, he said, Trump is risking a catastrophe with Hispanics: “When Ronald Reagan was elected, 84 percent of the electorate was white. This November, 70 percent will be. It’s a big mistake for our party to write off Latino Americans. They’re an important part of the country and soon to be the largest minority group in the country. I hope (Trump) will change his direction on that.”
Change his direction?! Has McConnell been listening to the guy for the past year?
McConnell and the other Republican leaders should listen to conservative strategist Ana Navarro, who said the other day: “If you’re a Hispanic holding your breath and hoping for Donald Trump to get better in his outreach to Latinos, you’re going to die of asphyxia.”
They’re not holding their breath. Trump is the white grievance candidate, so they’ll vote the other way. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in May, 84 percent of Hispanics viewed Trump unfavorably – 34 points higher than Romney’s negative rating in the spring of ’12, and 40 points higher than John McCain’s negative rating in the spring of ’08. And this new poll was conducted before Trump launched his 10-day assault on federal judge Gonzalo Curiel.
Now let’s take a look at how recent Republican candidates have fared. In ’04, George W. Bush eked out his re-election victory with 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. In ’08, McCain lost decisively, with just 31 percent of the Hispanic vote. In ’12, Romney lost decisively, with just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. Anyone see a trend here?
Bet on Trump sinking lower than Romney; in fact, he’s still doing his white nationalist rap. The other day, he told a California audience that he still intends to build a border wall and get Mexico to pay for it, “one hundred percent, not even a question.” The other night, in his supposedly conciliatory Teleprompter speech, he insisted that “my goal is always to bring people together” (another delusional utterance), but failed to mention Hispanics at all.
Latino Decisions, a polling firm that does large-sampling surveys in Spanish as well as English, reported in April that when Trump is matched against Hillary Clinton, he is decimated by a margin of 76 to 11 percent. That sounds about right.
And it’s not just because Hispanics detest Trump; just as importantly, they’ve long been fans of Clinton. They backed her strongly in the ’08 primaries; this year they helped propel her to victory over Bernie Sanders. And Clinton is well positioned for November, because she has the money to replicate the vaunted Obama turnout machine. (By the way, Trump may not even have the money for a decent ground game – in the Hispanic community or anywhere else – because a lot of big Republican donors, wary of his racist rhetoric, are reluctant to pony up.)
But let’s not blame the GOP’s Hispanic deficit solely on Donald Trump. He’s just a mutant strain of of the party’s longstanding hostility. I’ve been writing about this since, like, forever. And if you truly want to see the deficit in action, its latest horrific manifestation, check out what happened Tuesday night in the California Senate primary.
They have an unusual procedure out there. They put all the candidates on one ballot, Democrats as well as Republicans, and the top two finishers go to a runoff. And in the Senate primary, lo and behold, the top two finishers – state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez – were both Democrats. No Republican got more than eight percent of the vote.
How is that possible? Because the Republicans in California are virtually dead in statewide politics. They’ve managed to elect only one statewide candidate since 1994. Their Republican presidential nominee hasn’t carried California since 1988. And how is that possible? Because the state GOP kept moving so far to the right, kept stoking its anti-immigration animus – and the burgeoning California Hispanic electorate retaliated by basically killing the party.
You know the old saying, “As California goes, so goes the nation.” The party’s woes with Hispanics began there. Trump is the end game.