President George W. Bush received 44 percent of Hispanic votes in 2004 with heavy support from Cuban-Americans in Florida and Mexican-Americans in the Southwest; he carried heavily Mexican-American (45 percent) New Mexico, for example.
Donald Trump did not receive half that vote in 2016 in Hispanic precinct vote counts outside of Miami and parts of Virginia.
President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE brags he will carry the Hispanic vote in 2020. As of today, nearly four in five Hispanics disapprove of his presidency, according to Pew Research.
Can President Trump carry the Hispanic vote in 2020?
Trump did “well” with Hispanics only in Virginia and Florida, where most Hispanics are not Mexican. In California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, Mexican-American voters overwhelmed Trump. Mexicans are 65 percent of the 62-million-plus “Hispanic” population in all 50 states. Hispanics are now the largest ethnic voting bloc in the U.S.
Mexican-Americans have their most significant political numbers in California, Texas and Arizona. In those states, Mexican-American voters are heavily engaged in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and trade with Mexico.
Many work in trade with Mexico, and with few exceptions understand that trade with Mexico has mushroomed exponentially since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. They know they have jobs because of NAFTA, not because Donald Trump created them; they’ve had those jobs for years. They know that Mexico is our number one trading partner and that, today, we are trading a “million-dollars-a-minute” with Mexico under NAFTA.
Mexican-American voters in California, Arizona and Texas know that Mexico is the original home of their families and that most came to the U.S. in the past 100 years. They know that for a century Mexicans have been the largest number of people immigrating to the U.S. Practically every family has at least one member born in Mexico. Many came to the U.S. without permission but were legalized under President Ronald Reagan who, like George W. Bush, did well with Mexican-American voters.
While voter participation among Hispanics has traditionally been low, that has changed since 2000. There are 70,000 Hispanics a month turning 18 in the USA — that's 840,000 a year.
It is no accident that Trump lost California by four million votes. Most of those were Mexican-American voters reacting to Trump charging that most U.S. bound Mexicans are criminals, drug dealers and “rapists.” He didn’t specify that he was talking about “illegals,” so he meant most Mexicans. They don’t like to be so labeled when the vast majority aren’t criminals.
If Mexicans were a criminal class, as Trump suggested the day he announced his candidacy for president, inmate numbers in our prisons would prove him right. In California, with the largest number of Mexican-born people, only 8.6 percent of the state’s prison inmates are Mexican citizens. Only 11.6 percent of all federal prisoners are Mexican citizens.
Arizona’s Mexican-Americans have a different complaint. The most abusive American office holder since Texas Rangers' mass murdered Mexicans in Texas in 1918, former Maricopa County (Phoenix) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, was pardoned by President Trump after being convicted by federal judges of crimes committed when he was sheriff.
Arpaio mistreated Mexican-origin prisoners by making them wear pink panties and live in tents in the 120-degree desert. He ignored Federal court orders; he illegally harassed Mexican-origin prisoners in violation of federal law. Despite the Trump pardon, the conviction stands. Arizona’s Mexican-origin people are unhappy Trump pardoned Arpaio.
Texas sells over a $100 billion in goods and services to Mexico. Millions of Texans work in Mexican trade, many are of Mexican origin. Trump calls Mexico’s gigantic trade an enormous “rip-off” of the U.S. In their view, Trump is an enemy of billions of dollars in Texas paychecks.
Calling NAFTA the “worst” trade deal in history makes Trump look grossly uninformed to the millions of Texans who work because of NAFTA.
Lastly, we have Trump’s Florida. In 2016 he received a lot of support from Cuban-American voters who dominate South Florida. He may win Cuban votes in 2020. But is there a Puerto Rican alive who will vote for President Trump? He insults Puerto Ricans. He disdains Puerto Rico, especially since 2017’s Hurricane Maria devastated it. Does he even know that Puerto Ricans are citizens and have been since 1918?
Trump barely carried Florida in 2016 with barely 50 percent of the Cuban vote. Since Hurricane Maria 200,000 or more Puerto Ricans have left Puerto Rico and settled around Orlando, Florida. While they couldn’t vote for president in Puerto Rico, they can in Florida. Can Cuban votes overcome the new Puerto Rican Florida vote? It’s doubtful.
Will Trump be reelected in 2020? Possibly, maybe even probably. But it won’t be with the support of Hispanic voters.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is the author of “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade” and “White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (Wasps) & Mexicans.” He is a former writer for the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.