As Republican primary voters consider whether Donald Trump will carry the party banner next year, it’s worth considering how the frontrunner could be Barry Goldwater 2.0 on the question of race in general and Hispanics in particular.
A Trump nomination would be terrible for Republicans if they actually want to win. Goldwater in effect destroyed GOP relations with African-American voters, and Trump is poised to destroy relations with Hispanic voters. Because the majority of babies born today are non-white, if the GOP selects Trump, he could relegate the party to demographic oblivion.
In 1956, African-American support of the GOP was a solid 39 percent and a decent 32 percent in 1960. But after opposing the Civil Rights Act, Republican nominee Goldwater garnered a pitiful six percent in the 1964 presidential election. Black support has in single digits or the low teens ever since. The Republican “Southern Strategy,” embraced by Richard Nixon, further exacerbated the social breakdown between black voters and the GOP. Subsequent leaders like Jack Kemp and Ken Mehlman strove to mend relations between Republicans and black voters, with little effect.
Trump is on track to become a 21st century Goldwater figure, without the libertarian charm. Gallup data shows that Trump’s favorability with Hispanics at net negative 51 percent, an unattractive outlier compared to all other GOP candidates (Ted Cruz is a distant second in negativity, with just 7 percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush draws a net positive 11 percent). This as Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s net positives are a strong 40 percent among Hispanics, according to Gallup.
Trump likes to say that some polls show him winning among Hispanic GOP primary voters. But that isn’t saying much, especially when it comes to the general election. Just 13 percent of Hispanic voters self-identify as Republican, according to a 2014 Pew Research poll, compared with 34 percent who identify as Democrats and 44 percent who call themselves independent.
Hispanics are 17 percent of the U.S. population, the largest ethnic minority and fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation. Trump’s offensive characterizations of immigrants are off-putting to Hispanic Americans, many of whom have family members born outside the United States. Trump’s calls for deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and erecting a wall along the Mexican border are tin-eared policy proposals that are unfeasible and fiscally irresponsible.
Moreover, immigration is an important electoral issue, with 20 percent of Americans overall saying they’d only vote for a candidate who shares their immigration views — a figure that rises to 25 percent among Hispanics.
Source: Pew Research
Conventional wisdom holds that Republicans nominate the candidate who is most conservative but also most electable. Trump is hardly a conservative. He supports single-payer healthcare, proposes raising taxes on investors and restricting free trade, and has given generously to Democratic candidates, among other things. And he isn’t electable, either. According to Real Clear Politics polling matchups, Trump even loses to the “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders.
Without question, Trump’s decades in show business, flamboyant style and rhetoric has captured the imaginations of millions of Americans. He could be a huge asset to Republicans if he were to realize that discordant rhetoric and angry, empty promises are not sustainable campaign strategies beyond a small and shrinking portion of the electorate.
It’s true that the current occupant of the White House has dissipated American strength, leading to global chaos and the largest refugee crisis since World War II. It’s understandable that Republicans want someone who talks and sounds tough, who promises to be a strong and uniting leader. Trump talks tough, and that’s why he appeals to many Republicans frustrated with President Obama’s weakness. Though Trump currently leads his rivals in the GOP primary election, polls indicate it’s unlikely his divisive rhetoric would render him electable in the general. Voters prefer morning, not mourning, in America.
Though he laid out some important principles in his “Conscience of a Conservative,” Goldwater was ultimately a flawed national candidate by preaching “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Americans resoundingly disagreed, yielding Goldwater only six states in a popular margin of 61.1 percent for Lyndon Johnson and just 38.5 percent for the Republican senator from Arizona.
Trump’s extremism channels his inner Goldwater, and this should trouble the Republican faithful. Instead of diminishing the experiences and identities of Hispanics, Trump’s campaign would be more effective if he realized, as Ronald Reagan did, that immigrants deserve respect and dignity (Reagan, by the way, established Hispanic Heritage month). He could seek strengthen the free market system instead of seeking tax hikes and trade protectionism. The legacy of a robust capitalistic system is what attracts immigrants of all backgrounds to the United States. By hammering these admirers of American policies, Trump is risking nearly irreparable harm to the GOP for generations to come.
Read the original post at Opportunity Lives.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for American Enterprise Institute scholar Edward Conard. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.