Monday, December 19, 2016




          With the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump now only weeks away, and the fall election receding into the rear view mirror, one thing becomes ever more clear:

          The scope of the Latino vote majority Democrats needed and expected to get was significantly less in 2016 than in many earlier elections. And while outgoing President Barack Obama has spent some of the last few weeks skirting this fact by whining about how Democrats didn’t turn out, the diluted Latino vote very possibly means he cost his party the White House.

          That’s because Latinos, often taken for granted by national Democrats, have long memories.

          By a large majority, they still are very reluctant to vote Republican because of the tarnish left on the GOP brand by former California Gov. Pete Wilson and the anti-illegal immigrant Proposition 187 he pushed so hard during his 1994 reelection campaign.

          So it’s no wonder Latinos were well aware of Obama’s record on deportations: Over his first six years in office, Obama presided over the deportations of more than 2.1 million persons who lived in this country illegally. That’s equal to about one-fifth of the total estimated national population of the undocumented. It was a massive increase from the 1.1 million deported during the last five years of the Republican George W. Bush administration.

          How did this manifest in November? Exit polls of persons who had just voted showed that Democrat Hillary Clinton got only 65 percent of Latino votes to 29 percent for Trump.

          Democrats generally need better than a 70 percent majority of Latino votes in order to win a national election. Republicans historically only need backing from about 30 percent of those voters, and that’s right about where Trump came in.

          By contrast, Obama got 71 percent of Latino votes in 2012 to 27 percent for Republican Mitt Romney, and handily won reelection in both the popular and electoral college votes.

          It wasn’t the 2 percent increase in Latino votes for Trump over Romney that was key here; rather, it was the 6 percent decrease that Clinton drew. Placed together with her drawing 5 percent less of the African-American vote than Obama did (88 percent for Clinton, 93 percent for Obama), the dropoff was enough to defeat her in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, where margins were razor thin.

          About the only explanation for the drop in Democratic support by Latinos this year was the Obama-era deportations. Not even Trump’s repeated, vituperative anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rants dimmed memories of those expulsions.

          But every sign is that Trump won’t be able to repeat or increase the gains he made among Latinos, the way the late Ronald Reagan did between 1980 and 1984, when he posted a 7 percent gain in Latino votes. That will be especially true if Trump follows up on his pledge of mass deportations, especially for undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions, no matter how minor their offense. Trump has made no efforts to differentiate between, for example, shoplifters and rapists.

          His initial goal, he says, is to round up between 2 million and 3 million criminal immigrants in the country illegally.

          That could not only put the incoming administration in direct conflict with the sanctuary city laws of California places like Los Angeles and San Francisco, where police have already said they will not aid in any immigration raids, but could increase the proportion of Latinos personally acquainted with deportees or those about to be deported.

          That figure now stands at 40 percent, according to the Latino Decisions polling firm. It was a key reason for the limpid Democratic vote among Hispanics. “Latino voters who know someone that is undocumented are 43 percent less likely to have a favorable impression of (Obama),” reported University of New Mexico Prof. Gabriel Sanchez just before the election.

          Enough of them, plainly, couldn’t bring themselves to hold their noses and vote for Clinton, a close Obama associate, and that unwillingness was a big reason Democrats lost the White House.

          Those same people do not, however, have a favorable impression today of Trump and their feelings will only get stronger if he pursues his current plans. Trump didn’t care in 2016, and only time will tell if this will matter when he presumably runs for reelection in 2020.

     Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is 

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