Can Donald Trump, who kicked off his campaign for president last June by calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, win over Latinos—especially Mexicans?
Sure, why not, writes Ruben Navarette, Jr. at The Daily Beast:
The relationship between U.S.-born Latinos and Latino immigrants, and even between foreign-born Latinos who have been naturalized and Latino immigrants, is complicated to say the least. There is an ambivalence there.
As a Mexican-American, I can tell you that many Mexican-Americans think that Mexican immigrants who come to the United States illegally are taking advantage—of a porous border, of the social-services safety net, of loopholes in immigration law, and of an insatiable appetite among U.S. employers for cheap and dependable labor. And they're not wrong about that.
Navarette says you'll find Latinos, especially Mexicans, for Trump in "red states like Texas and Arizona, and the battleground state of Colorado. There's a lot they like about Trump, including his independence, plainspokenness, success in business, and disdain for political correctness. They see him as strong and resolute, and not having to cater to moneyed interests since he is self-funding his campaign. And either they don't buy the idea that he is anti-Mexican, or they don't care."
Navarette points to a poll in January that found
Donald Trump is the favorite among Latino Republicans, according to new polling results revealed to The Post.
Thirty eight percent favor Trump, followed by Cuban American Ted Cruz (15 percent), Jeb Bush (14 percent) and Cuban American Marco Rubio (8 percent), according to the national poll conducted by the Beck Research for the American Federation for Children.
Of course, it's true that there aren't all that many "Latino Republicans" in the country. Running candidates such as Mitt Romney, who pushed for self-deportation by illegal Mexicans during the 2012 election, will do that to a party. So will constantly talking about building walls on the U.S. border with Mexico, tripling the Border Patrol, stepping up immigration laws, and the like.
But it's also true that as any broadly or even narrowly defined ethnic group gets exponentially larger (as Latinos are), they will spread out over the political and ideological spectrum. And at some point, the GOP will acknowledge demographic shifts that will force them to at least reach out to Hispanics even if the party doesn't change any of its positions. The GOP risks going down the tubes nationally if it relies solely on the white vote, which is shrinking as a percentage of the overall total. As Karl Rove has noted, this is not impossible. Greg Abbott won 50 percent of the Latino vote while running for governor of Texas and George W. Bush and Rick Perry cracked the 40 percent margin in various of their state-wide elections.
Here's relevant data from Pew Research on the topic: