One the factors that could decide the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States is turnout among Hispanics.
Spanish-speaking Americans have been warier of voting than other ethnicities. Less than half voted in 2012 against 62 percent of whites and 66 percent of black voters.
This year, the Republican candidate’s anti-Hispanic rhetoric is driving up Hispanic turnout to his disadvantage. If more Hispanics than usual turn out to vote in states like Arizona, Florida and Nevada, it could decide the election in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
Politico cautions against reading too much into polls that put Clinton ahead among Hispanics anywhere between 15 and 55 points. Hispanics are hard to reach, because they are less likely to have landlines, and pollsters can’t be sure how many will actually turn out to vote.
But the early voting figures don’t look good for Trump.
Hispanics have cast 14 percent of 5.7 million early and absentee ballots in Florida, a traditional swing state that has 29 out of 538 electoral votes.
That puts Hispanics far ahead of where they were in early voting four years ago.
Trump could still eke out a victory if he brings more white voters to the polls. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gives him a one-in-two chance of winning Florida. But some recent surveys have also put Clinton ahead.
The Arizona Republic reported this week that the state was seeing the largest increase of early voting by Latinos in the county.
At the time, 13 percent of the early ballots cast in the border state came from Latino voters, up from 11 percent four years ago.
The prognosticators are less sure about Arizona’s prospects than they were in previous elections. FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 74-percent chance of winning its eleven electoral votes, but recent surveys have been close. Clinton and her surrogates have also continued to hold events and speeches in Arizona. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo wonders if perhaps their internal polling suggests Arizona is still winnable.
The last time a Democrat won Arizona was in 1996, when Bob Dole and Ross Perot split the right-wing vote to the benefit of Clinton’s husband, Bill.
Nevada has only six electoral votes, but Clinton could suddenly need those desperately if Trump defies the odds and wins all the competitive races in the East: Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Ohio.
The good news for Clinton is that record early voting in Nevada means she has a “firewall” of around 73,000 ballots there, according to Slate. That compares to Barack Obama’s lead in early voting of 71,000 four years ago. Obama ultimately won Nevada by almost 7 points.
Trump has already cried foul, suggesting there may be wrongdoing at “certain key Democratic polling locations in Clark County,” which includes Las Vegas.
There is no evidence for this whatsoever.
Jon Ralston of the local station KTNV has said only a “Miracle in Vegas” can save Trump in the state.
Looking at Hispanic turnout and voting intentions nationwide, he could have said the same about Trump’s chances altogether.
Republicans can’t say they weren’t warned.
I reported here in February that Trump was ruining the Republican Party’s brand with Hispanics.
At the time, he had already (falsely) claimed that Mexico deliberately exports its murderers and rapists to the United States.
He later argued that the judge in a court case against his now-defunt Trump University, which stands accused of fraud, was naturally biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.
In February, 45 percent of Latinos opined that the Republican Party was “hostile” to them — up from 18 percent in 2012.
Now a stunning 82 percent say Trump makes them fear for the future of their family and the country.
After Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012, Republicans recognized they needed to make peace with America’s fastest-growing demographic and moderate their views on identity and immigration.
By nominating Trump, they have done exactly the opposite.