According to the 2012 exit polls, Barack Obama won the Latino vote 71%-27% over Mitt Romney. In the lead-up to the that election, Latino Decisions put out a poll predicting that 71%-20%. Today, Latino Decisions predicts that Hillary Clinton will carry the Latino vote by a 74%-15% margin.
The first thing to observe is a slightly bigger pool of undecideds. Four years ago, with only 9% undecided, the prediction nailed Obama’s support but either underestimated Romney’s support or, maybe, Romney won all the late deciders.
This time around, there’s eleven percent undecided. If history repeats itself, then Clinton will get about the 74% of Latino voters that’s predicted and Trump will finish with somewhere around 22% or 23%. That would be represent about a 3% erosion of support, which seems like a relatively small price to pay for calling people rapists and criminals and making building a wall to keep them out a foundational pillar of your campaign.
Of course, the late deciders could break for Clinton or the poll could be more accurate this time. There’s also a bigger pie of Latino voters than there was four years ago, and the Latino Decisions poll shows that respondents are more enthusiastic about voting this time, which could drive up turnout.
Any way you slice it, it’s a move in the wrong direction for the Republican Party, but it’s still unclear how much damage has been done. If Trump really gets only 15% of the Latino vote, then the damage will have been extensive. If it’s more like 24%, that seems like a startlingly good result under the circumstances.