What we know: There is a misinterpretation that the popularity Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is being driven by their hard-line positions on immigration. In fact, their own primary voters don’t agree with them on this issue, and the consequences with the rest of the electorate are disastrous.
By the numbers: 3 in 4 Americans support immigration reform with a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants. Only 18% of Americans support mass deportation, as opposed to 73% who support legal status.
Exit polling continues to show that a strong majority of Republican primary voters favor legal status over mass deportation – even when the latter is phrased in friendly terms – without border security ever being mentioned.
Look at these two key Super Tuesday states: Georgia and Virginia
In Virginia exit polling showed that 59% of GOP primary voters support legal status as opposed to only 36% who support mass deportation.
Georgia was similar – 53% of voters said they favored legal status, whereas only 39% supported mass deportation.
If Republicans continue to eat themselves alive on this issue, and express support for mass deportation, states like Georgia – typically a lock for Republicans in a general election – will become swing states.
Contrast that with GOP frontrunner Donald Trump – and how utterly disastrous are his numbers? His favorability among Latino voters is overwhelmingly negative, with 80% viewing him unfavorably to just 16% who view him favorably.
Let’s compare Trump’s 2016 numbers with Latino voters to Mitt Romney’s numbers with African Americans in 2012: In 2012, Mitt Romney had a 68% unfavorable rating among African American voters before the general election. And as of now, Trump has a 80% unfavorable rating among Latinos.
Romney ended up with only 6% of the African American vote in the general election. Even with that, he still had a lower unfavorable rating among them, then Donald Trump currently holds among Latinos.
Now, Republicans will probably end up with more than 6% of the Latino vote – but don’t expect it to be anything close to a majority.
Need more proof? Just how bad are Donald Trump’s numbers with Latinos? Barack Obama is doing better with self-identified conservatives voters than Trump is doing with Latino voters – who are a key voting block for decades to come.
Washington Post – Poll: The Hispanic electorate in 2016
Monmouth University Poll: National Poll, November 5, 2012
Washington Post – Exit polls 2012: How the vote has shifted