National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP)

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José R. Sánchez
   Chair
Edgar DeJesus
   Secretary
Israel Colon
   Treasurer
Maria Rivera
   Development Chair

Hector Figueroa

Tanya K. Hernandez
 Angelo Falcón
   President


 

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Latino Opinion Leaders
on the Presidential Election
Findings from NiLP's July 2016
National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey
By Angelo Falcón (July 21, 2016)
 
The week before this year's national conventions of the two major American political parties, Latino opinion leaders were asked about their views on the leading candidates for President of the United States. While it is clear that the Democrats have the overwhelming advantage in the Latino vote, we thought it would be useful to explore whether Latino opinion leaders are as supportive of national origin groups. In the discussion of the Latino vote nationally, there is a tendency to lump all Latino national-origin groups together, assuming homogeneity in this vote. However, it is important to pay attention to differences between the major Latino subgroups in which Mexicans make up over 60 percent of the total Latino vote, Puerto Ricans 15 percent and other Latinos 25 percent or so.  

This online survey was conducted by the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) during July 12-18, 2016. A total of 304 Latino opinion leaders participated from throughout the United States, While this may be the closest thing to a survey of national Latino leadership in existence today, it is not based on a scientific sample, making our findings only suggestive of broader tends and attitudes. The intent of this survey is stimulate discussion and debate on critical issues facing the Latino community  by  providing some insights into the thinking of a broad range of engaged Latino leaders.
 
Although there were high levels of support for Hillary Clinton for President by all three groups of Latino opinion leaders, there was some significant variation. Clinton had her strongest support among the Mexican opinion leaders (88 percent) and the weakest among the Puerto Ricans (68 percent). The Puerto Rican opinion leaders displayed significant support for Green Party candidate Jill Stein (14 percent). The strongest support for Donald Trump came from the other Latino opinion leaders (10 percent).
 
Table 1 -For whom do you plan to vote for
President of the United States in November?
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
Hillary Clinton (Democratic Party)
88.1%
68.0%
70.8%
Jill Stein (Green Party)
5.1%
14.0%
8.3%
Donald J. Trump (Republican)
0.0%
2.8%
10.4%
Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party)
0.0%
1.1%
4.2%
No one, I do not plan to vote
6.8%
14.0%
6.3%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
Consistent with these candidate preferences, all three groups of Latino opinion leaders gave Clinton high positive favorability ratings (63-76 percent). However, among Puerto Rican and other opinion leaders, significant percentages (23-26 percent) viewed Clinton's candidacy "very unfavorably."
 
Table 2- How favorably do you view
Hillary Clinton as a Presidential candidate?
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
Very favorably
32.2%
22.7%
34.0%
Somewhat favorably
44.1%
40.5%
30.0%
Somewhat unfavorably
10.2%
12.4%
8.0%
Very unfavorably
13.6%
22.7%
26.0%
Not sure
0.0%
1.6%
2.0%
\Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
 
On the other hand, The Latino opinion leader's views of the Trump candidacy are overwhelmingly negative across the board. Those viewing Trump's candidacy as "very unfavorably ranged from 90 percent of other Hispanics to 95 percent of the Mexicans.   
 
Table 3 - How favorably do you view
Donald J. Trump as a candidate for President?
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
Very favorably
3.3%
1.6%
4.1%
Somewhat favorably
0.0%
1.6%
6.1%
Somewhat unfavorably
0.0%
5.3%
0.0%
Very unfavorably
95.0%
91.4%
89.8%
Not sure
1.7%
0.0%
0.0%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
We explore this negative view of Trump by asking the Latino opinion leaders which Trump comments during the campaign they found to be the most offensive, to see if all the three groups of leaders reacted in the same way to them. We found that all three groups of Latino opinion leaders identified as most offensive Trump's "assertion that Mexican immigrants are a rapist." (38-49 percent) It is significant that although directed specifically at Mexican immigrants, the group that found it most offensive were the Puerto Rican opinion leaders. While the Mexican opinion leaders found Trump's criticism of a Mexican judge as the second most offensive comments (23 percent), for Puerto Ricans and other Latinos, it was Trump's comment that "Hispanics love me" that came in second in offense (14 and 26 percent, respectively). There was. Therefore, some variation in how specific Latino national-origin groups viewed these comments.
 
Table 4 - Which of the following statements by Donald J. Trump
did you find most offensive to the Latino community?
 
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
 
His assertion that Mexican immigrants are rapists
43.3%
48.7%
38.0%
Trump's claim that "Hispanics love me"
10.0%
14.4%
26.0%
The need to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and for Mexico to pay for it
18.3%
11.8%
16.0%
His charge that the judge in his Trump University case was biased because he is Mexican
23.3%
10.2%
10.0%
His claim that Latinos will support Trump because he will provide them with jobs
5.0%
7.0%
2.0%
None of the above
0.0%
3.2%
8.0%
Not sure
0.0%
4.8%
0.0%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
 
There has been some issues that have emerged widely about Hillary Clinton that her critics have raised. We selected some of the most prominent ones and asked the Latino opinion leaders to identify the one they found to be the most troubling about the Clinton candidacy. Each of the three groups of Latino opinion leaders responded differently to this question. The Puerto Ricans found Clinton's support, of the PROMESA  Act on Puerto Rico's debt crisis as the most troubling (35 percent).For the Mexicans, it was her mishandling of the State Department emails (18 percent) and for the other Latinos, it was her failure to release the transcript to the speech Goldman Sachs paid for  (20 percent). It is also significant to note that a majority of the Mexicans didn't find any of the issues listed as troubling or were not sure (55 percent), a much higher percentage than either the Puerto Ricans (21 percent) and other Latinos (24 percent).
 
Table 5 - Which of the following do you find most troubling
about Hillary Clinton's candidacy for President?
 
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
 
Her support of the PROMESA  Act on Puerto Rico's debt crisis
0.0%
34.8%
14.0%
Her mishandling of State Department emails and classified in
18.3%
18.7%
18.0%
Her failure to release the transcript to the speech Goldman Sachs paid for
5.0%
13.9%
20.0%
Her support of a $12 an hour instead of a $15 an hour minimum
13.3%
5.9%
16.0%
The Benghazi incident
8.3%
5.9%
8.0%
None of the above
50.0%
17.6%
18.0%
Not sure
5.0%
3.2%
6.0%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
On the issue of Clinton's mishandling of her State Department emails, the decision by FBI Director Comey not to prosecute her was highly controversial. National polls have found a majority of Americans feeling that Clinton should have been prosecuted. Is this sentiment reflected by the Latino opinion leaders? Our findings are that it does not as large majorities of all three Latino opinion leaders agree with Comey's decision not to prosecute (63-80 percent). This level of support for not prosecuting her was much highest among the Mexican opinion leaders, and much lower among the Puerto Ricans and other Latinos (37 percent of each disagreeing with his decision or being not sure).
 
Table 6 - Do you agree with FBI Director James Comey's decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton on her mishandling of the State Department emails?
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
Yes
80.0%
62.6%
63.3%
No
11.7%
21.9%
20.4%
Not sure
8.3%
15.5%
16.3%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
 
There is a consensus that one of the most important factors in determining the results of the November election for President will hinge on turnout levels. With an apparent Republican focus on mobilizing White voters, the Democrats are relying on strong support from communities of color and women. However, it is widely noted that Latino voter turnout, about only 50 percent in 2012, is abysmally low. This has generated a discussion of why this is the case. Along these lines, we asked the Latino opinion leaders to identify which they thought was the biggest obstacle to Latinos voting in November.
 
There emerged no consensus on this issue among the Latino opinion leaders, indicating either disagreement or a recognition of the role of a multitude of factors. The most citied obstacle to Latino voting by the Mexican and Puerto Rican opinion leaders was the lack of strong Latino leadership to motivate participation (18-25 percent), while for the other Latinos it was general political apathy (26 percent). It is interesting to note that the controversial issue of the negative impact of state voter ID laws was not cited much by the Latino opinion leaders (only by 8-11 percent).
 
Table 7 - Which do you think is the single biggest obstacle to
Latinos voting in November's Presidential election?
 
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
 
Lack of Strong Latino Leadership to Motivate Participation
18.3%
24.6%
20.0%
Cynicism About Dysfunctional Government
18.3%
21.9%
10.0%
General Political Apathy
16.7%
14.4%
26.0%
State Voter ID Laws
10.0%
10.7%
8.0%
Lack of Viable Candidates
15.0%
6.4%
16.0%
Anti-Latino Voter Intimidation
5.0%
7.5%
0.0%
Lack of Information
5.0%
3.7%
8.0%
Lack of Difference Between the Political Parties
3.3%
4.3%
4.0%
Voter Fatigue
0.0%
.5%
0.0%
Other
8.3%
5.9%
8.0%
Total
 
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
As the nation begins to turn to the voting booths in November, basic questions about the responsiveness of basic American institutions becomes a concern. Asked to identify the institution or structure that is most unresponsive to the Latino community, there was no consensus among the Latino opinion leaders/ For the Mexican and other Latino opinion leaders it is elected officials (25 and 24 percent, respectively)), and for Puerto Ricans, it is corporations (20  percent). For the Mexicans, a strong second is the media (22 percent), and for other Latinos, the school system (16 percent).   
 
Table 8 - Of the following institutions and players, which do you feel
is least responsive to the needs of the Latino community?
 
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
 
Elected Public Officials
25.4%
17.2%
24.0%
Corporations
10.2%
20.4%
12.0%
The Media
22.0%
14.0%
12.0%
School System
13.6%
4.8%
16.0%
Appointed Government Officials
8.5%
8.6%
4.0%
Philanthropy
3.4%
9.1%
4.0%
The Economy
1.7%
7.0%
8.0%
Courts
0.0%
6.5%
2.0%
Police
3.4%
2.2%
6.0%
Faith-based Institutions
3.4%
2.7%
0.0%
Universities and Colleges
5.1%
0.0%
2.0%
None of the above
0.0%
1.6%
2.0%
Not sure
3.4%
5.9%
8.0%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
As one examines the role of these institutions, the question arises as to which are the main obstacles to the full integration of Latinos into American society. The most cited reason was racial discrimination (by 38-47 percent), with a higher percentage of the Mexicans identifying this factor. For the Mexican opinion leaders, cited second were national-origin discrimination (18 percent) and discrimination based on noncitizen legal stat (17 percent), For the Puerto Ricans, the second most cited was national-origin discrimination (22 percent), and for other Latinos it was social class discrimination (20 percent), There is, therefore, no clear consensus on this question by the Latino opinion leaders..
 
Tab;e 9 - Which do you feel is the most pressing 
obstacle facing the Latino community to 
fully becoming incorporated into American society? 
 
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
 
Racial discrimination
46.7%
39.0%
38.0%
National origin discrimination
18.3%
21.9%
16.0%
Social class dissemination
10.0%
19.3%
20.0%
Gender discrimination
1.7%
0.0%
0.0%
Discrimination based on noncitizen legal status
16.7%
9.6%
16.0%
Language Discrimination
0.0%
5.3%
4.0%
Not sure
6.7%
4.8%
6.0%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
 
Perhaps one problem the-the definition of these issues is a lack of consensus on the role of tace in the Latino community. When asked whether they considered Latinos to be a racial or ethnic group. Majorities of all three Latino opinion leaders (50-68 percent) chose ethnic/national origin group. The other Latinos were the most ethnically-oriented of the three groups. The Mexicans were the group most identifying Latinos as either a racial group or both racial and ethnic equally (44 percent), compared to the Puerto Ricans (34 percent) and other Latinos (26 percent). How Latinos view themselves racially, no doubt, affects how they will address racial issues, and this lack of consensus on this issue may explain to some degree how Latino leaders frame or do not frame issues of race.
 
Table 10 - Do you consider Latinos or 
Hispanics to be  primarily a racial or  ethnic/ 
national origin  group, or something else?
 
Ethnicity
Mexican
Puerto Rican
Other Latino
A Racial Group
5.0%
4.9%
2.0%
An Ethnic/ National Origin Group
50.0%
57.6%
68.0%
Both equally
38.3%
29.3%
24.0%
Something else
6.7%
5.4%
2.0%
Unsure
0.0%
2.2%
4.0%
Don't know
0.0%
.5%
0.0%
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
   
While it is clear that the overwhelming majority of Latinos will be voting for the Democratic candidate for President, it is also important to recognize that the Latino vote is not monolithic. Factors such as national-origin and regional differences, immigration status, etc shape perceptions of this part of the electorate thT obscure A more complex reality. As the findings from this survey show, there are notable differences in the views of Latino opinion leaders based on their national origin that requires further discussion and exploration. The temptation during a heated election such as we are experiencing this year is to view communities like Latinos as simply a solid voting block when this is, in fact, not the case.
 
Angelo Falcón is President of the National Institute for Latino Policy. For which he edits their online information service, The NiLP Report on Latino Policy & Politics. He can be reached at afalcon@latinopolicty.org.  
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
The NiLP Report on Latino Policy & Politics is an online information service provided by the National Institute for Latino Policy. For further information, visit www.latinopolicy. org. Send comments to editor@latinopolicy.org.