Donald Trump loves Hispanics, but the feelings aren't mutual: If he makes it to November, they won't forget his toxic hate speech

Hispanics are an increasingly important voting bloc — Trump's rhetoric will continue to repel them

Published February 26, 2016 10:58AM (EST)

Donald Trump   (AP/John Minchillo)
Donald Trump (AP/John Minchillo)

“The Hispanics love me.” -- Donald Trump

After the Nevada caucus I wrote that the Trump juggernaut was basically unstoppable. He's won a Northeastern state, a Southern state and now a Western state. For a variety of reasons, Trump has amassed a broad and deep coalition of Republican supporters. When the Super Tuesday primaries on March 1 are finished, Trump will likely have a near-insurmountable delegate lead. And even if he doesn't win as many of those states as the polls suggest, he's still the runaway favorite in most of the subsequent elections.

The point, again, is that Trump isn't going anywhere. Barring a miracle, he will be the Republican nominee in 2016.

There's a reason party elites are terrified: They know a Trump nomination portends doom for the party, up and down the ballot. Trump fits neatly under the Republican tent, particularly among the base, but he's positively toxic in a general election.

A new Washington Post-Univision poll confirms just how disastrous a Trump-led ticket will be. Trump has succeeded, in large part, by stoking racial and cultural resentment among the GOP's base. All the talk about marauding Mexicans and building a big, luxurious wall is what propelled him to the top of the polls. It was about as overt as dog whistling gets, really.

The problem, though, is that Hispanics are an increasingly important voting bloc. Every presidential election, it becomes harder and harder to win without the support of Hispanic voters. The Republican establishments knows this, which is why they're trying desperately to appeal to Hispanic Americans – with little success.

And although Trump insists the Hispanics love him, it's pretty clear they don't. According to the poll cited above, Trump has the highest negative ratings among Hispanic voters of any of the major Republican candidates. Eighty percent of respondents said they have an unfavorable opinion of Trump. By contrast, only 23 percent registered an unfavorable opinion of Bernie Sanders. And when asked whom they'd vote for if the choice was between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (the most likely scenario at this point), 73 percent said they'd vote for Clinton.

Given the broader demographic shifts in the electorate, and the Republicans' hackneyed efforts to appeal to Hispanic voters, allowing Trump to win like this would be catastrophic – not just for this election but for the foreseeable future.

Among African-Americans, another vital demographic, Trump fares even worse. Despite his claims to the contrary, polls show that African-American voters like Trump even less than Hispanics do. In a hypothetical race between Trump and Clinton, somewhere between 4 and 12 percent of African-Americans say they'd vote for Trump, depending on which poll you consult. Which isn't surprising.

Trump is riding high on a wave of white resentment; that's worked depressingly well as a primary strategy, but it will be his undoing in a general election. They're simply aren't enough white nationalists around to win with them as your base. Not all Trump supporters are white nationalists, of course, but an uncomfortable number are, enough to alienate the overwhelming majority of minority voters in this country, without whose support victory is impossible.

Trump – and the Republican Party – will be reminded of this soon.

By Sean Illing

Sean Illing is a USAF veteran who previously taught philosophy and politics at Loyola and LSU. He is currently Salon's politics writer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Read his blog here. Email at

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2016 Elections Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Hispanic Voters