National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP)

25 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
800-590-2516


 

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

Hector Figueroa

Tanya K. Hernandez
 Angelo Falcón
   President


 

To make a tax-deductible donation,
Mail check or money order to the above address to the order of "La Fuente/NiLP"
  
Follow us on Twitter and

NiLP's
National Latino Opinion Leaders' Survey
Latino Opinion Leaders on
the Presidential Election
By Angelo Falcón
The NiLP Report (May 29, 2016)  

As this year's Presidential election
becomes increasingly politically convoluted and unpredictable, the role of the Latino vote becomes more interesting than ever. With both major political parties facing potentially contentious national political conventions this summer and Donald Trump's growing viability of being elected President, this has become possibly one of the most unique and important national elections in the history of this country.
 
What role will Latinos be playing in this historic election? Making up 18 percent of the population and possibly as much as 12 percent of the electorate, will Latinos be major or minor players? Which candidates will they support and how strongly? What do they consider the most important issues? What characteristics of Latinos influence their decisions? Who are the key players in terms of leadership and organizations?
 
Many of these questions are currently being addressed through polls and commentary regarding the overall Latino electorate. However, the role of Latino opinion leaders, as important as this stratum is politically, has not been adequately examined. Within any community, the part that such leadership plays in framing issues, setting priorities, developing political strategies and motivating the base of the community is critical. This is also a stratum of a community that is well politically informed and highly educated. In the Latino case, the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP), a nonpartisan organization, has designed the National Latino Opinion Leaders' Survey.
 
The current National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey was conducted May 15-20, 2016 over the Internet with 297 respondents. The respondents are members of The NiLP Network, an online information service on Latino issues composed of Latino influentials from throughout the United States. The findings, for the most part, are reported for three groups of Latino opinion leaders --- Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos. This survey is not of a representative sample and its findings are not generalizable to the entire Latino general or elite populations, but given the uniqueness of this group may provide useful insights into the questions being examined.
 
Contents
 
 
Best in Selected Policy Areas 

 
 
 
LatinoVoteThe Latino Vote
 
ImportanceImportance . Latino opinion leaders are very optimistic about the important role that the Latino vote will play in this year's Presidential election. Among the Mexicans, 89 percent thought it will be important, compared to 83 percent of Puerto Ricans and 71
percent of other Latinos. Of those thinking it would be the most important factor in the election, it was 21 percent of the Puerto Ricans, 18 percent of the Mexicans and 11 percent of other Latinos.  

Turnout
Turnout Level
. The Latino opinion leaders were also very positive that Latino voter turnout would increase in November. Those thinking that turnout would improve over 2012 election levels were 74 percent of the Mexicans, 60 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 51 percent of the other Latinos.
 
OrganizationMost Effective Organizatio n. Asked which organization has bee the most effective in mobilizing the Latino vote so far this year, the largest share of Latino opinion leaders thought all of the organizations together were most effective (29-32 percent), while the next largest group stated they didn't know, didn't think any were effective or never heard of them (25-39 percent).
 
Across all three groups of Latino opinion leaders, the following organizations were most cited as effective at mobilizing the Latino vote:
  • Univision
  • National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
  • Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), and
  • Voto Latino.
Among the Mexican opinion leaders, the following organizations were seen as most effective:
  • SVREP and Univision (tied at 9 percent each), and
  • NCLR and Voto Latino (tied at 7 percent each).
Among the Puerto Rican opinion leaders, it was:
  • Voto Latino (6 percent),
  • Univision (slightly less than 6 percent), and
  • Telemundo (4 percent).
Among the other Latino opinion leaders, it was:
  • Univision (11 percent),
  • NCLR and SVREP (7 percent each), and
  • America's Voice and Voto Latino (4 percent each).       
PresCandPresidential Candidate Support
  
DegreeDegree of Support . The week before Donald Trump got the 1,239 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination for President; the Latino opinion leaders were asked who they thought would be the Democratic Party nominee for the post. Overwhelmingly, 91 percent think it will be Hillary Clinton. This was also the week in which the State Department issued a report that found that Clinton had used national security emails inappropriately.
 
For the candidate that they planned to support, the Latino opinion leaders were asked how strong that support would be. Among the Democrats, 69 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders indicated that their support for Clinton would be "Strong" to "Very Strong," compared to 56 percent of Puerto Ricans, and 51 percent of the other Latinos. For Sanders, it was 77 percent of the Mexicans, 82 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 71 percent of the other Latinos. In other words, while they felt that Clinton was the inevitable nominee, support for Sanders seems deeper.
 
Regarding Trump, those indicating "Strong" to "Very Strong" support were only 7 percent of the Mexicans, 6 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 7 percent of the other Latinos.
  
BestBest Represents/Latino Interests . Asked which of the Democratic candidates they thought would best represent the needs of Latinos, among the Mexican opinion leaders, it was Clinton (48 percent) over Sanders (36 percent), while among the Puerto Ricans it was Sanders (44 percent) over Clinton (36 percent), and for the other Latinos it was also Sanders (40 percent) over Clinton (33 percent).
 
The Latino opinion leaders' general political orientation has a major effect on the response to this question. While for all three groups, those seeing themselves as being Liberals throught in majorities that Clinton would best represent Latino needs, majoroes of those who saw themselves as Progessives selected Sanders. Clinton also came in first place in this category among those identifying as "Moderate": 50 percent of the Mexican moderates, 53 percent of the Puerto Ricans, but by only 27 percent of the other Latino moderates.     
  
VicePresVice President . As the discussion begins to turn to the candidates' choices for their Vice Presidential running mates, the Latino opinion leaders were asked who among possible Latino contenders this would be. For the Democrats, the largest percentages selected HUD Secretary Julian Castro, a Mexican-American, over Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who is Dominican. For the Mexican opinion leaders, it was Castro (51 percent) over Perez (16 percent) and someone else (31 percent); for the Puerto Ricans, Castro (40 percent), Perez (14 percent) and someone else (45 percent); for other Latinos, it was Castro (41 percent), Perez (29 percent) and someone else (31 percent). Mentioned the most as someone else was Congressman Xavier Becerra by 9 percent of the Mexicans, 5 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 4 percent of the other Latinos.  

For the Republicans, only a few answered this question. For the Mexican opinion leaders, it was between Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (19 percent), Florida Senator Marco Rubio (18 percent) and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (13 percent). For the Puerto Ricans, it was Rubio (22 percent), Martinez (12 percent) and Sandoval (5 percent). For the other Latinos, it was Martinez (22 percent), and Rubio and Sandoval equally (at 18 percent each).
 
The more typical response to this question about possible Latino Republican running mates included statements volunteered by the Latino opinion leaders surveyed like: "Anyone associated with Trump would never get my vote!!," "Are you kidding me?," "Do not want to think that this would happen!," "He would never pick a Latino for running mate," "I would disown any Latino running with Trump : )," "No Latino should Prop up this Fascist." "None, I'd be ashamed that Latino is there," "None, not supportive of Donald Trump's platform, who he has as a vice president would not make a difference," and "NONE! You could cover that M.....F... in gold and I wouldn't vote for him."
  
FavorFavorability . An important topic of discussion in the Presidential race is the candidates' favorability ratings. The Latino opinion leaders were asked about how favorably they viewed the candidates. For Clinton, those viewing her "Mostly Favorable" to "Very Favorable," it was 68 percent of the Mexicans, 66 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 49 percent of other Latinos. For Sanders, it was 71 percent among the Mexicans, 8 percent among the Puerto Ricans, and 73 percent among the other Latinos. For Trump, it was only 5 percent for the Mexicans, 5 percent for the Puerto Ricans, and 4 percent for the other Latinos.
  
TrumpPresTrump's Chances of Winning the Presidency . With Trump being the presumptive Republican nominee for President, the Latino opinion leaders were asked if they thought he had a chance at being elected President. Of those responding "Yes" or "Maybe," were 79 percent of the Mexicans, 68 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 73 percent of the other Latinos.
  
BestPolicyBest in Selected Policy Areas . The Latino opinion leaders rated the three candidates on who they thought would be most effective in dealing with foreign policy, immigration, and Puerto Rico's debt crisis.
 
On foreign policy, Clinton was seen as best handling this area by all three groups of Latino opinion leaders: 68 percent of the Mexicans, 63 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 53 percent of the other Latinos.
 
On immigration, Clinton was also seen as being able to handle this issue best by all three groups of Latino opinion leaders, but less so than with foreign policy. This was the case with 57 percent of the Mexicans, 49 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 50 percent of the other Latinos.
 
On Puerto Rico's debt crisis, the Puerto Ricans thought Sanders would do a better job (45 percent) than Clinton (39 percent) while Clinton was seen as better handling this issue by the Mexicans (50 percent) and other Latinos (40 percent).
 
IssuesThe Issues
  
MostMost Important Personally . The Latino opinion leaders were presented with a list of policy issues and asked which they considered the most important in making their decision on whom to vote for President. Overall, the Economy and Jobs was on top for 43 percent of the Mexicans, 42 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 52 percent of the other Latinos. However, while immigration came in second for Mexicans (30 percent) and other Latinos (14 percent), it came a distant third for the Puerto Ricans (6 percent). The Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis was seen as the second most important by 27 percent of the Puerto Ricans.
  
MostLatinosMost Important for Latinos . Specifically as it affects Latinos, the Latino opinion leaders were asked what would be the most important issue determining their selection of President. For the Mexicans, it was Immigration (43 percent) and the Economy and Jobs (42 percent). For the Puerto Ricans, it was the Economy and Jobs (54 percent), immigration (19 percent) and Puerto Rico's Debt Crisis (16 percent). For the other Latinos, it was the Economy and Jobs (58 percent) and Immigration (24 percent).
  
It is important to note that depending on whether the focus is on the general population of Latinos specifically, the relative importance of issues changes. While the Economy and Jobs tops the list for everyone, for the Mexicans it is Immigration, and for the Puerto Ricans, the Puerto Rico Debt Crisis is seen as more important than Immigration.
 
PRFedPuerto Rico Crisis - Federal Role . This survey was taken after the U.S. Congress began debating the PROMESA Bill providing Puerto Rico with assistance in addressing its $72 billion debt crisis. Asked what role the federal government should play in resolving this issue, there was strong support among all three groups of Latino opinion leaders that the U.S. government should allow Puerto Rico to declare bankruptcy and provide other assistance. The more controversial aspect of this PROMESA Bill is the introduction of the creation of a Territory Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico to direct the process of debt restructuring. Depending on how this board is finally structured, there is concern that it would undermine the democratic process in Puerto Rico, giving control of its finances completely to the U.S. government. Asked if the United States should respond to the crisis by taking full control of Puerto Rico's finances, only 12 percent of the Mexicans, 6 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 13 percent of the other Latinos agreed.
  
PRImportPuerto Rico Crisis - Importance . How important is the federal government's role in resolving Puerto Rico's debt crisis in their decision for President? This issue was viewed as "Very Important" to "Most Important" by 47 percent of the Mexicans, 80 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 44 percent of the other Latinos. While seen as important by all three groups, it appears that its importance is not shared by the majority of the Latino opinion leaders at this point.
  
EmbargoEnding Cuban Trade Embargo . On the other hand, there is almost total support among the Latino opinion leaders for the ending of the Cuban trade embargo by the United States. This was the view of 90 percent of the Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, and 84 percent of the other Latinos.
  
CubaImpactImpact of Cuban Normalization . However, while overwhelming supportive of ending the Cuban trade embargo, there were differences in the Latino opinion leaders' view on whether the normalization of relations with Cuba would help or hurt the economies of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. While 47 percent of the Mexicans and 34 percent of the other Latinos thought it would help, 45 percent of the Puerto Ricans thought it would hurt.
  
DeportDeportation Policy . There was near unanimous opposition among the Latino opinion leaders to the mass deportation of the undocumented. This was the position of 99 percent of the Mexicans, 98 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 91 percent of other Latinos.
  
ImmigImportImmigration Reform Importance . Despite this strong opposition to mass deportations, the importance given to the issue of immigration in deciding who would be President was more mixed among the Latino opinion leaders. Feeling it was "Very Important" to "Most Important" were 86 percent of the Mexicans, 58 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 71 percent of the other Latinos.
  
DawsonImmigration --- Dawson-Huerta Debate . On the issue of immigration, an informal and highly controversial debate emerged between actress/activist Rosario Dawson on behalf of Bernie Sanders and Chicana icon Dolores Huerta on behalf of Hillary Clinton over which candidate has the strongest immigration reform positions. Among those Latino opinion leaders indicating who won this debate, Dawson was the pick for  24 percent of the Mexicans (versus 21 percent for Huerta), 27 percent for the Puerto Ricans (versus 12 percent for Huerta), and 33 percent for other Latinos (versus 11 percent).
  
RacismInstitutional Racism . Asked how important institutional racism was in determining the social status of Latinos in the United States, majorities of all three Latino opinion leaders felt that it was "Very Important" and "Most Important." This was the opinion of 77 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders, 69 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 67 percent of the other Latinos.
 
While for the Puerto Rican and other Latino opinion leaders, institutional racism was the "Most Important" factor for those who saw Latinos either totally racially or equally racially and ethnically, for the Mexicans institutional racism was "Most Important" for those that saw Latinos as primarily an ethnic group. It appears that despite whether they consider themselves a racial or/and e thnic group, all of these Latino opinion leaders see racism as an important issue. The political implications of the difference found here between the Mexicans and Puerto Ricans/other Latinos, however, require further analysis.
  
IdentityIdentity - Race v Ethnic . Large majorities of all three groups of Latino opinion leaders consider Latinos to be primarily a national origin/ethnic group and not a race: 57 percent of the Mexicans, 59 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 76 percent of the other Latinos. The Latino opinion leaders seeing Latinos as primarily a racial group were only 7 percent of the Mexicans, 4 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 7 percent of the other Latinos. Those viewing Latinos as equally, both a racial and ethnic group, were 29 percent of the Mexicans, 25 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 13 percent of the other Latinos.
 
Regarding their racial identification, apart from their ethnic identification, the largest percentages for all three groups of Latino opinion leaders identified as "White": 45 percent of the Mexicans, 45 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 55 percent of the other Latinos. The other major racial identification was "Multi-Racial" for 30 percent of the Mexicans, 39 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 39 percent of the other Latinos. Those Latino opinion leaders identifying as "Black or African-American" were only 1 percent of the Mexicans, 7 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 2 percent of the other Latinos.
  
MobilitySocial Mobility . Regarding their current social class, majorities of all three groups of Latino opinion leaders identified themselves as being Middle Class or Upper Middle Class: 77 percent of the Mexicans, 79 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 84 percent of the other Latinos. Compared to where they placed their family background in social class terms, large majorities view themselves as having been upwardly mobile:   80 percent of the Mexicans, 75 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 69 percent of the other Latinos.
 
Among all three groups of the Latino opinion leaders, the men indicated more upward mobility than the women. The greatest gender disparity in mobility was for the Mexican opinion leaders, for which 89 percent of the men saw themselves as having been upwardly mobile compared to only 64 percent of the women.
 
In terms of social integration, it is important to note that nativity seems to have a positive impact on the Latino opinion leaders' upward social mobility. Among the Mexicans, 82 percent of the U.S.-born saw themselves as having been upwardly mobile, compared to 70 percent of the foreign-born. Among the Puerto Ricans, 79 percent felt upwardly mobile, compared to 70 percent of the Island-born; and among the other Latinos, 79 percent of the U.S. born thought themselves to have been upwardly mobile, compared to 63 percent of the foreign-born.
 
LeadersLeadership
  
MostInfluMost Influential Congressperso n. One of the major challenges facing the Latino community in the United States is the lack of the emergence of a strong national leadership (or what some refer to as the "We Don't Have a Latino Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson Problem." Looking to the U.S. Congress as one possible source of such leadership, the Latino opinion leaders were asked who they thought was the most influential Latino in the Congress today. 

Among all three groups of Latino opinion leaders, the largest number identified Chicago Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez as the most influential: 21 percent of the Mexicans, 34 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 20 percent of other Latinos. Among the Mexican opinion leaders, also mentioned was California Congressman Xavier Becerra by 18 percent; by the Puerto Ricans, New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, by 8 percent; and by the other Latinos, Becerra, and US Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, by 7 percent each.
 
Significant percentages of the Latino opinion leaders indicated that they could not identify an influential Latino Congressperson: 26 percent of the Mexicans, 37 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 40 percent of other Latinos. This supports the perception of the existence of a Latino leadership vacuum, at least  in Congressional terms.     
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
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.