An MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist poll released on Friday reiterates Donald Trump’s fatal flaw in his bid to become president. He is loathed by Latino voters. The MSNBC survey of 1,115 registered voters, including 432 registered Latino voters, finds Trump losing badly to either Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. Trump trails Clinton 53-40 overall. With Latino voters, Clinton crushes Trump by a resounding 69-22 margin.
Vice President Joe Biden, who may be contemplating a presidential run, but has not announced his candidacy, fares even better than Clinton in the MSNBC poll. Biden leads Trump 56-38 overall, and 71-20 with Latino voters.
Inexplicably, the poll does not appear to have tested a hypothetical match up between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, even though Sanders is currently leading the Democratic field in both New Hampshire and Iowa. If that contest was polled, the results are not reflected in MSNBC’s write up of the recent survey. Presumably, given Trump’s weak showing against other Democrats, he would also poll poorly against Senator Sanders.
Clearly, Donald Trump’s strategy of courting angry white voters by demonizing Latino immigrants, is double-edged. While it has helped vault him to a commanding lead in the Republican race for the nomination, it also could prove politically fatal in a general election. Latino voters can deny Trump a victory by voting against him en masse.
Although Latino voters make up just over 10 percent of the electorate, they can prove decisive in close presidential contests. Barack Obama won in 2012 over Mitt Romney largely on the strength of non-white voters. With Latinos, Obama defeated Romney by a bruising 71-27 percentage. By contrast, when George W. Bush defeated John Kerry in 2004, Bush managed to garner a respectable 44 percent of the Latino vote.
Trump has no chance of matching Bush’s 2004 performance with Latinos, and it is doubtful he could even reach the very low bar set by Mitt Romney’s train wreck of a campaign. While Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is great for grabbing headlines, its political poison for trying to win a nationwide presidential race. If Trump is the Republican nominee, his abysmal showing with Latino voters is almost certain to sink his candidacy in a general election.