Latino Voter Turnout Falls Short of Electing Clinton to Office

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Donald Trump’s election victory late last night came as a surprise to many pollsters and market demographic researchers, but perhaps nowhere more so than within the Latino community itself.

Early voting data suggested that an historic turnout of Hispanic voters for the 2016 presidential election would offer Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton a competitive advantage over her Republican adversary.

In the days leading up to the election, more than 6.4 million people in Florida cast their ballots during the early-voting period, with Hispanic voter turnout up an estimated 139% since 2012. In Nevada as well, Latino populations in and around Las Vegas were expected to surpass previous numbers by a wide margin. The increases were largely credited to a heavy outreach to young Millennials and first-time Latino voters through social media and blog sites, which reach eight in 10 American Internet users and account for 23% of all time spent online.

Yet despite the early voting figures, exit polls suggest that the Latino vote represented just 11% of the overall electorate, only marginally more than the 10% representation in 2012.

Moreover, reports seem to have overestimated Latino support for Clinton herself. While an estimated 71% of Hispanics voted for Clinton, another 27% to 29% opted for Trump, a higher percentage than was previously anticipated, and more than what previous Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney or Bob Dole had received from Latino voters.

Across the board, however, the Latino turnout did not prove enough to prevent Trump from gaining the necessary electoral votes he needed to win, particularly among the rural white demographics of the Midwest.

“Election 2016 boiled down to a brutish tug-of-war between Latinos in the battleground states of the West such as Colorado and Nevada and working-class whites in the Rust Belt states like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania,” writes political commentator Ruben Navarrette Jr. for the Daily Beast. “And, in the end, Trump found enough white voters to offset losses with Latinos.”

With the results now in and Hillary Clinton’s concession speech delivered, many wonder how many of Trump’s promised policies will come to fruition once he assumes office on January 20. His campaign has pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border, to enact stricter vetting policies for Muslim immigrants, and to abolish the Affordable Care Act, among other measures.

“Obamacare is a disaster,” Trump said during a debate in October. “You know it. We all know it. We have to repeal it and replace it with something absolutely much less expensive.”

Back in 2014, just before Affordable Care Act insurance regulations went into effect, around 35.7 million people in the country were without healthcare insurance. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 25.5% of Latinos under age 65 are still without health coverage.

Trump would need a minimum of 60 supportive votes from the Senate in order to successfully repeal the Affordable Care Act once in office.

“Repeal of the law is absolutely going to come up, and the only potential defense against that would be a Democratic filibuster,” says health economist Austin Frakt. “The only thing stopping that is, it’s a big deal to throw millions of people off insurance without offering something in return.”

For now, Navarrette writes, “there are no obvious answers as to what this relationship between Trump and Latinos will look like over the next four years… But whatever happens, don’t expect [the Latino] community to fall to pieces.”