I was arriving in New York City late one afternoon and hustling to the CNN Time Warner studios for my 8:00 PM slot on CNN. It was a typical Manhattan experience complete with an ethnic cab driver more than ready to tell me everything I needed to know about — well, everything.
[Trump] is now trying to woo Hispanics with his self-described ability to create jobs. It’s not working. Latinos are actually pretty good at getting a job or two or three. In fact, they now lead the nation in creating jobs.
- Rick Sanchez
I smiled as the cab driver, a Dominican New Yorker who recognized my voice from the show I used to host on Radio WADO in New York City, seemed almost giddy about being able to speak in Spanish with me about his true feelings. He spoke in well thought-out sentences and wanted – like most U.S. Hispanics – to drill down on politics and the economy.
So away we went, Sergio and me. We talked it up in traffic and I came to understand what mattered most to Sergio. He very much liked the Clintons, because the most important thing in his life was having a good job so he could take care of his family, and he was convinced experientially that the Clintons would provide the proper economic conditions.
Try as I might, I couldn’t get him to budge from that position.
“It’s very simple,” Sergio told me. “When Republicans are in the White House, the economy “baja” (baja is Spanish for falls or goes down), and when a Democrat is in the White House it lifts it back up, that’s all I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
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There may be a much more sophisticated explanation beyond a rudimentary look at who’s in the White House. It could also be argued that there’s more to American economic presidential history than Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. However, because America’s Latinos are by far the youngest demographic group in the nation, Reagan, Nixon, Carter and Johnson really don’t come in to play.
To them it’s as easy as good times versus bad times. And as Sergio sees it, he lost money during the H.W. Bush years, made money during the Clinton years, lost it during the W. Bush years and is now building it back during the Obama years. That is the world according to Sergio, who drives in New York City for a living and whose job is dependent on a vibrant economy.
Sergio’s economic view of America is very similar to that expressed by most Latinos and it spells bad news for Donald Trump. It also spells good news for Hillary Clinton if she knows how to harness it and she doesn’t get caught in the dirt trying to “out-offend” Trump.
If she takes anything away from the latest Fox News Latino Poll, which comprehensively and accurately captures the mood of America’s Latino voters, it’s this: Hispanics like you a whole more than they like Trump — don’t blow it.
Her husband’s handling of the economy does not only boost Clinton, so does her relationship to the Obama administration.
And when it comes to what matters most for America’s Latinos, it continues to be about the economy and jobs, with 34 percent mentioning it as the issue they see as the most important in this election.
But here comes the double whammy for Trump, who wallows in negativity and depends on white America’s pessimism about the future for votes. Latinos are extremely optimistic about the future, they love America and they’re OK with the direction the country has taken for them. (Remember, most Latinos based on their or their parents immigrant status have some type of reference to what the rest of the world is like. In other words, they can see beyond the borders of Kansas and Ohio when appraising and comparing the virtues of America).
Compared to 2008, 39 percent of Latinos surveyed said they were better off now, while 15 percent said they were worse off than eight years ago.
Here’s the skinny on Hillary Clinton’s advantage even pre ‘Bernie burn out’ which will only improve when she’s no longer battling two opponents: 62 percent of Hispanics believe that Hillary Clinton cares about them as a group, while 76 percent believe Donald Trump doesn’t care about them at all.
Trump, whose rhetoric has been generally perceived as offensive to Latinos, is now trying to woo Hispanics with his self-described ability to create jobs. It’s not working. Latinos are actually pretty good at getting a job or two or three. In fact, they now lead the nation in creating jobs. What Sergio and others like him want is an economy that creates the right conditions for them to be able to thrive at whatever job they choose.
So in the end, what we learn from Sergio and is reflected in our poll is this: Latinos are really not that interested in what Trump is selling. Yes, his "the sky is falling, everything is bad, they’re coming to kill us all and there are no jobs" argument works for angry white GOP primary voters, but it won’t work with Hispanics. We’re too optimistic!
At 22 percent, Donald Trump according to our poll would have the most “bajo” Latino support of any Republican candidate in history. And it gets worse. Our poll included as many East Coast Latinos as it did those from the West Coast. If the poll were weighted toward Mexican- Americans (you know, the ones he called “rapists”), I suspect his numbers could have been much worse.