Anybody who’s not listening to, say, Dick Morris probably knows that a Donald Trump–led Republican Party has a Latino problem. How deep it may be, and how much it matters, is a subject of considerable controversy.
Part of the problem is that polls often offer little insight on this subject. Some national polls undersample Latinos, or don’t use bilingual interviews, or don’t capture the opinions of a younger, more mobile population. Others run into or don’t take sufficient account of regional or nation-of-origin differences.
One new national poll out today that does not suffer from these basic shortcomings is a Pew survey showing Clinton leading Trump by a 66-24 margin among Latinos, and a 51-42 margin overall. In a three-way race including Libertarian Gary Johnson, Clinton’s lead is 58-20-13 among Latinos, and 45-36-11 overall.
Pew has a very good reputation in the polling world. But an even better one belongs to the Field Organization, which polls California. And Field’s first post-primary survey of the Golden State has some even worse news for Trump than he’s getting from national polls.
Clinton leads Trump by a 75-12 margin among California Latinos. In a three-way race with Johnson included, Trump falls into single digits among Latinos: 71-9-5. That’s within shouting distance of Clinton’s 80-5-4 performance among African-Americans.
Now, you may think: This is California, a place where Republicans have alienated Latinos for years, and it’s not a seriously contested state, either. The latter point is true (though Trump has made noise about contesting California), but also irrelevant at this early point in the general-election campaign. As for the former point, California Latino voters have actually behaved pretty much like Latino voters nationally in recent presidential elections. In 2012, Romney took 27 percent of the California Latino vote, exactly his national percentage, even though Obama was annihilating him in the California electorate as a whole by a 60-37 margin. So Trump winning less than half of Romney’s share of the Latino vote there in the most authoritative poll around could be a very bad sign, even if you don’t hear about it from Dick Morris.