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Why Donald Trump is trying to reach Latino voters

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President Donald Trump sat at a table at the Arizona Grand Resort, flanked at a distance by local Republican leaders with ties to the Latin American community.

“We are here to discuss my administration’s unwavering dedication to American Hispanic communities,” Trump said Monday at the indoor event with enthusiastic supporters. “I love you, and we take care of you, and I never let you down.”

Most Latinos don’t agree. The Trump administration has failed to respond adequately to the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected Latinos. Its immigration policy has been largely unpopular and has resulted in family separation. And he’s been uttering racist slurs since the day he announced he was running for president. Yet the Trump campaign is actively playing for Latino voters with a message centered on faith, family, law and order, and entrepreneurship.

“We can poke holes in these things, but these are the sincere arguments of the supporters of Latino Trump, and it seems those arguments are at least enough to win a significant share of the Latin vote,” says Geraldo Cadava, professor at the North West University. focuses on Latinos and the Republican Party.

The Trump campaign has targeted Latinos with purchases of Spanish TV and radio ads. (The campaign did not share how much money it spent on them.) Its Latinos for Trump initiative, launched in June 2019, includes 16 field offices in target states that have been hubs for knocking down and phone calls. On social media, the campaign’s presence includes an “Equipo Trump” Twitter account and an “VAMOS” Instagram hashtag. The president has a Latino advisory board for Trump and has hosted roundtables. This all adds up to a clear game for a group with growing influence in the electorate.

“It’s like a math problem, isn’t it?” You want to add, not subtract. It’s about adding up, ”says Mercedes Schlapp, Trump 2020 senior adviser.“ It’s about adding to our party. It’s about making sure we’re able to make inroads into these very crucial communities and move away from Democrats.

Supporters of President Donald Trump line up at the Arizona Grand Resort to hear the president speak at a “Latinos for Trump” panel discussion in Phoenix on September 14, 2020.

Thomas Hawthorne The Republic / USA Today Network / Sipa

No one expects Trump to win the Latin vote. In 2016, he won 28%. In some states with large Latin American populations, it has done a little better; in Florida, Nevada and Arizona, it got 35%, 29% and 31% respectively, according to the CNN exit poll. This year, polls suggest he’s in the same range, despite policies that have hurt Latinos. There’s a chance he could maintain or even gain traction in those states, especially Florida. A recent poll from Equis Research, a progressive Hispanic research firm, for example, put Trump at 37% in Florida, 26% in Nevada and 29% in Arizona.

“He has to do better than in 2016, and he certainly is,” said Carlos Curbelo, former Republican congressman from Florida, noting that the campaign had taken aggressive action with the Latin American community over the years. last two years. “I don’t know how much room for growth he has, I think he’s probably at the peak right now. He certainly needs these voters because he has lost some support from the white suburbs.

Stephanie Valencia, co-founder of Equis Research, says it’s important to break down what’s going on in each state rather than just looking at Latino voters nationwide. In Arizona, for example, the Equis polls indicate that there is what Valencia calls “the Trump intrigue” among young Hispanic men. In Florida, Trump has targeted the state’s large Cuban population by falsely attacking Biden as a socialist.

The thrust of the argument the Trump campaign presents to Latin American voters hinges on the circumstances leading up to the pandemic: the economy was doing well, unemployment – especially among minorities – was down, and home ownership was down. housing among Latinos was increasing. But he’s also trying to cast doubt on Biden and capitalize on the fact that Biden’s campaign has caught fire for not doing enough to woo Latino voters.

Meanwhile, groups like the Lincoln Project, made up of conservatives who oppose Trump, are teaming up with Latino groups to help get the vote for Biden. “If Latinos vote, they’re going to reject Donald Trump,” says Jacob Monty, a Republican donor who sits on Project Lincoln’s Hispanic steering committee and was a member of Trump’s Hispanic National Advisory Board in 2016 before stepping down.

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