Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s concerted outreach to Latinos paired with her Republican rival Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric toward Mexican immigrants has helped her maintain a cushy 50-point lead over her GOP competitor among Hispanic voters, according to the latest polls.
But the Clinton campaign is still struggling to win over a fast-growing portion of this group: Latino millennials.
Millennial voters – and in particular Latinos in that generation – heavily supported Clinton’s former challenger in the Democratic primary, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But even as Sanders hits the campaign trail to stump for Clinton, Hispanic millennials are having a tough time switching allegiances.
Clinton never got the passionate backing from Dreamers and other Latino millennial groups that Sanders had. And those who are supporting her are doing so grudgingly.
As party leaders prepared to tap Clinton as the Democratic nominee during the convention, actress Rosario Dawson held a press conference to stand by comments she’s made in the past.
“[Clinton] is not a leader, she’s a follower,” she said.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that just 48 percent of Latino millennials said they support Clinton, compared to 66 percent of older voters. To put that in perspective, the millennial generation makes up about half the record 27.3 million Hispanics eligible to vote in November.
“Many young Latinos have said they don’t trust Hillary Clinton,” Mark Hugo Lopez, the director of Pew Hispanic Research told Fox News Latino. “They have some questions about how she handled things when she was secretary of state, what she will actually do with immigration reform, what her policy will be toward Latin America.”
The majority of Latino millennials who plan to vote for Clinton say they are doing so only because they want to make sure that Trump does not get elected. Among Hispanic millennials backing Clinton, 64 percent described their support more as a protest vote against Trump than a vote for her.
“We are definitely angry about what is happening but we also understand that we need to defeat Donald Trump,” Erika Andiola, Sanders’ former Latino Outreach director who is now the political director of the Sanders-inspired Our Revolution.
While Andiola is a Dreamer, young, undocumented immigrants who have been protected from deportation under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy – and can’t vote on Election Day, she says it is vitally important for Latino millennials to vote for Clinton even if the grueling campaign season soured them to the Democratic candidate.
Between Trump’s controversial call to build a massive wall along the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico and his proposal to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., Andiola worries about what a Trump presidency would mean for someone like her.
“You need to hold your nose and go vote against Donald Trump,” she said.
The Pew study results indicate that Clinton has some room to make up with Hispanic millennials (although not as much as Trump, who pulled in only 15 percent of the age group).
But Clinton campaign staffers and pollsters said those numbers can be deceiving.
“In all the other polling we have seen, it shows that Latino millennials are planning to vote in very, very high numbers for Sec. Clinton,” Hillary For America pollster Matt Barreto said during a conference call on Tuesday.
Rep. Xavier Becerra from California – a major Clinton surrogate – added that while it is a struggle to get younger voters to the polls, given the two major party choices this campaign season, it is obvious who Hispanic millennials will vote for.
“What you’re going to find is that young voters will be the last to make a decision on who to vote for,” Becerra said. “But I don’t think there is any debate that young Latinos, after they make an assessment, will vote for Hillary Clinton.”
Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.