President Donald Trump’s new favorite talking point is a claim that his recent crusade for a southern border wall, which draws furious accusations of xenophobia and racism, has made him more likable to Hispanics.
“When you look at the Hispanic polls, I’m up 19 percent,” Trump said at the White House last week. “And the reason I’m up 19 percent … I think it’s the fact that they understand, better than anybody, what’s going on at the border.”
It was at least the third time Trump has publicly referenced the surprising number, including in a Jan. 27 tweet in which he argued his monthlong standoff with Congress was a political success. It appears to come from a NPR/Marist poll that shows his approval rating among Hispanics soaring from 31 percent in December to 50 percent this month.
“It’s an astonishing number,” Fox News host Pete Hegseth told viewers days after the Jan. 17 poll was released.
But veteran pollsters who spoke with POLITICO called the number suspect, citing issues with the poll’s sample size and methodology. Broader polling data show little sign that Trump’s standing with Hispanics is on the rise.
To the consternation of Democrats, however, it doesn’t seem to be falling, either. Trump’s dire rhetoric about immigration seems to have done little damage to his modest — but not insignificant — support among Hispanics.
Trump’s support among Latinos and Hispanics in three other polls taken in January — 18 percent in a ABC/Washington Post survey, 30 percent in a The Economist/YouGov one, and 35 percent in poll from Quinnipiac University — produced an average of 27.6 percent.
That roughly matches the 29 percent of the Hispanic vote Trump carried in the 2016 presidential election, an improvement of two percentage points over Mitt Romney’s performance with those voters four years earlier.
Any significant shift in Trump’s support among Hispanic voters could have a decisive effect on his 2020 reelection prospects. For instance, in 2016 Trump carried Florida — where about 1 in 6 voters is Hispanic — by just over 1 percentage point.