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Latino Votes For Clinton Didn't Offset Trump's Support


In the days leading up to the presidential election, political observers believed that turnout among Latino voters would be large and overwhelmingly in Hillary Clinton's favor. That forecast turned out to be only partially true. The Latino voters did turn out in droves. They did not all vote as analysts were expecting. In fact, Donald Trump appears to have gotten a slightly larger share of the Latino vote than Mitt Romney got four years ago.

To understand why analysts might have gotten this wrong, we're joined by Alfonso Aguilar on Skype. He is the executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

Good morning.

ALFONSO AGUILAR: Good morning. How are you?

GREENE: I'm well. Thanks for coming on the program. We appreciate it. You know, the thinking was that the Latino vote could really hurt Trump's chances of winning this election. What actually happened?

AGUILAR: Well, I guess it didn't materialize. And part of it is that the Latino community's not monolithic. I guess they were angered by Donald Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants and his proposals on immigration. But at the end, many of them are concerned, like other Americans, about the state of the economy. Latinos are in unacceptable levels of poverty. Unemployment in the Latino community's higher than the national average.

So at the end, like other Americans, many decided to vote for Donald Trump. He got 29 percent of the Latino vote, which is higher than what Mr. Romney got four years ago. In some key states, like Arizona, Florida, Texas, the vote for Trump from Latinos ranged from 30 to 35 percent.

GREENE: So just so I'm clear, it's - and I do think that we sometimes try to identify voting groups with being too monolithic. We talk about a lot of so-called white, working-class voters feeling left out of the economy, feeling like their dignity has been lost because they've been out of work, feeling like they wanted a champion. You're saying that a lot of those themes were on the minds of many Latino voters as well?

AGUILAR: Oh, absolutely. I think poll after poll shows that the No. 1 issue for Latinos was jobs and the economy. And yes, the vast majority of Latinos are working-class people. And what they care about is pocketbook issues. Now, immigration is certainly, as I said, a very important issue. It's a gateway issue to the community. That's why he lost the majority of Latino voters.

But what's interesting is that, you know, he really didn't campaign in the Hispanic community, did very little in terms of to engage Latinos through Spanish-language media. And he still managed to get 29 percent of the vote. So if he had had a more constructive position on immigration and showed up in Latino communities...

GREENE: Maybe he actually could have gotten more of the vote, you're saying.

AGUILAR: He could have got even a better share.

GREENE: Well, can I ask you, going forward - I mean, Donald Trump, for one thing, has promised to end this executive action that President Obama signed which is giving people who are brought to the United States as minors a temporary reprieve, not necessarily being deported. Are Latinos worried about that and other actions that Donald Trump might take pretty quickly?

AGUILAR: Well, they certainly are and specifically about DACA, those individuals who...

GREENE: That's the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that we're talking about, yeah.

AGUILAR: Correct - who came here as minors. I think they're concerned. He can do away with it right away. Those who benefit from it wouldn't lose the benefit right away, but they wouldn't be able to renew it. So they would be in limbo. So they are concerned. But at the same time, some of them are hopeful that, you know, he's not going to deport people who have no criminal record. So - and they're hoping that he may be different as president than he was as a candidate.

GREENE: OK. We've been speaking to Alfonso Aguilar. He is executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. Getting his reaction to the election and the Latino vote.

Thanks so much for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.

AGUILAR: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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