Hillary Clinton is walloping Donald Trump by a “historic” 30-point margin among likely Florida Hispanic voters, according to a new Univision poll that shows she’s tied with him among Cuban-American voters who were once a bulwark of Republican support.
Clinton’s 58-28 percent lead is a net 6-point shift in her favor since Univision polled the presidential race last month with Florida Latinos. Her 30-point margin compares to President Obama’s final 21-point spread in his historic rout of Republican Mitt Romney among Florida Latinos, according to exit polls at the end of the 2012 election.
“We’re looking at Hillary Clinton winning historic margins with Latinos in Florida at this rate,” said Fernand Amandi, a Bendixen & Amanadi International pollster and Democrat who paired with the Republican Tarrance Group to conduct the bipartisan poll of 400 likely Hispanic voters in Florida and three other swing states.
If Clinton’s current margins with Hispanics in the Univision poll hold, Trump’s ability to win Florida — and therefore the White House — are seriously in doubt.
In contrast to Obama’s final poll numbers in 2012, Clinton has time and room to grow support, said Amandi, who noted that her campaign is advertising heavily on Spanish-language media, while Trump has repeatedly alienated Hispanic voters.
The percentage of Hispanic voters among all Florida voters has increased by about 1.5 points to 15.4 percent since 2012, making Clinton’s margins even more threatening to the Republican candidate now.
Amandi said a major revelation in the race came last week when Newsweek reported that Trump’s casino-hotel company in 1998 paid a consultant to seek business opportunities with Cuba — and broke the Cuban embargo while doing it. Clinton’s campaign ran English-language and Spanish-language radio spots that essentially accused Trump of hypocrisy because he went on to say in 1999, as he considered a bid for president then, that he backs the embargo. Today, support for the embargo is mainly concentrated among Cuban-American Republicans.
“The Cuban embargo story might have been the straw that broke the Cuban vote’s back,” said Amandi, a Cuban-American from Miami. He said Trump also performed poorly against Clinton in their first debate and may have hurt himself more by getting into a war of words with Alicia Machado, a former Venezuelan model whom Trump once fat-shamed.
Since all that unfolded, Clinton’s margins overall among Florida Latinos grew by 6 points while Trump’s 43-36 percent advantage with Cuban-Americans last month was wiped out. Clinton is now tied 41-41 percent with this group of voters.
Cuban-American support, concentrated in Miami-Dade County, is crucial for any Republican running statewide in Florida. They comprise an estimated 70 percent of the 366,000 active Republican voters in Miami-Dade, which has more GOP voters than any other in the state.
Without strong Cuban-American support for a Republican in Florida, there’s little to check Democratic candidates from running up huge margins in South Florida that can help swing the state. And Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, is one Trump needs to win.
Recent Florida polls show Clinton is starting to edge ahead of him in a general-election matchup.
Trump has notably weak support from Cuban-American leaders in Miami-Dade, where the reception to him has been cool after many took offense at his hardline stance and rhetoric over immigration. Though Trump has directed most of his fire at Mexican illegal immigrants, a number of Hispanics generally have taken offense at the remarks. Miami-Dade was the only county Trump lost in the March 15 presidential GOP primary to his then-opponent, Sen. Marco Rubio.
Thanks to strong Cuban-American support, the bilingual Rubio enjoys far greater support among Florida Hispanics. Where Trump only pulls 28 percent support, Rubio is at 45 percent.
Rubio’s opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, is gaining steam, however. Last month, Rubio was ahead of Murphy by 7. Murphy now has a marginal 1-point lead in the poll, which has an error-margin of 4.9 points. Amandi said Murphy’s support is coming almost entirely from once-undecided voters.
“The question for Rubio is ‘has he topped out?’ His numbers haven’t moved. He’s completely known,” said Amandi. “But Murphy is unknown. He has room to grow.”
The question for Murphy, though, is whether a Democrat can win Florida without dominating with Hispanics. So far, the answer to that is a no — 20 straight polls show Rubio is winning the state.
While the influence of Cuban-Americans is strong in Florida — they should account for about half of the ballots cast by Latinos in Florida — it’s waning. Puerto Rican voters are flocking to Florida from their island home and are about four years away from outnumbering Cuban-Americans. Unlike arrivals from Cuba, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens who can simply register to vote by establishing residency.
A poll of Puerto Rican Florida voters released this week by Latino Decisions, whose founders are polling Hispanics for Clinton’s campaign, showed Clinton winning their vote by a 57-point margin. Puerto Rican voters were split 44-41 percent between Murphy and Rubio.
Also released this week: another Hispanic voter survey conducted by TelOpinion for the conservative-leaning Associated Industries of Florida. It found Trump losing by 24 points among likely Hispanic Republican voters. It showed Rubio leading Murphy by 9 among Hispanic voters.
In a memo of the poll written by Republican Ryan D. Tyson, AIF’s vice president of political operations, Trump’s numbers stood out because of the relatively high number of undecided Cuban-American Republicans, 14 percent. That’s double the number of undecided Latino Democrats. If Trump could consolidate this undecided GOP Hispanic support, it would be a bright spot for him, Tyson wrote.
“However, the positive outlook ends for him there as Trump is down ~44% with non-Cuban Hispanics who will make up half of the likely Hispanic electorate,” Tyson wrote. “Trump will not win Hispanics here in Florida.”
Thanks to the Cuban-American support he does have, Trump is doing better in Florida than in the other swing states where Univision polled Hispanics. While he trails by 30 points in Florida among Latinos, Trump is losing by 48 points in Arizona and Colorado and 45 points in Nevada.
But Amandi, the Univision pollster, worked for Obama’s campaign in 2012 and said Clinton’s Cuban-American support at this point in the campaign rivals the president’s at the end of his campaign four years ago in Florida.
“We didn’t see Obama cracking 40 percent until the last days of the campaign in 2012. Clinton is already there,” Amandi said. “If Trump doesn’t do something about this — and fast — he’s looking at an historic loss with Latinos in this state.”