While the midterms went surprisingly well for the Democrats, especially considering the president’s unpopularity and the high rate of inflation, Hispanic voting is causing indigestion among party strategists.
The shift of Hispanic voters from reliable Democratic lever-pullers to a mixed group voting more Republican continued last week. In some areas, the movement accelerated. Nationally, Hispanics gave 39% of their votes to the GOP this year, which is the highest level ever recorded for a midterm election.
In Florida, the news for Democrats was even worse. Gov. Ron DeSantis received 58% of Florida’s Hispanic votes, according to the media’s exit polling. No one was surprised that Mr. DeSantis got a strong majority of Cuban Americans to vote for him, but he also got the votes of 56% of Florida’s Puerto Ricans, a group that was supposed to be much more Democratic.
But the networks and The Associated Press weren’t the only groups doing exit polling to check which groups voted for who, and why they did so. My organization, NumbersUSA, an advocacy group favoring controlled immigration, worked with Rasmussen Reports to produce what we call “virtual exit polling.”
Virtual exit polling contacts voters randomly after the polls close, makes sure only actual voters are questioned, then weights the percentages of those questioned to the actual results of the election. For our national virtual exit poll of Hispanics, Rasmussen talked to 522 midterm voters. The results are bracing.
For one thing, only 21% of Hispanic voters considered immigration their top issue when going to the polls. Instead, 47% said it was only one of their “top three” issues, a finding that closely matches what non-Hispanics said when asked the same question. Democratic spokespeople have often declared that immigration is the issue that matters most to Hispanics, but there is no evidence this is true.
When asked if the government is doing “too much” or “too little” to “reduce illegal border crossings and visitor overstays,” Hispanic midterm voters were very clear. Fifty-seven percent said “too little,” while only 16% said “too much,” with 17% saying “about right.” For the all-important middle-aged voters 40-64, 67% said too little, with only 9% allowing it was too much. But how about Democratic Hispanic voters? They, too, gave a plurality to “too little,” with 49% answering that way, and only 15% thing too much was being done to stop illegal immigration.
There are several million illegal aliens in the U.S. working illegally. What did Hispanic midterm voters think about requiring all employers to use the government’s E-Verify system to “help ensure that they hire only legal workers?” Hispanic voters favor mandatory E-Verify by an astounding 64%-25%! Virtually every subgroup of Hispanics strongly agrees that E-Verify should be used to squeeze out illegal workers, including Hispanic Democrats, liberals and even young voters.
Since this survey, and many other polls, show almost universal support for E-Verify among Hispanics, why aren’t Democrats in Congress rushing to put this policy in place? After all, E-Verify exists now — nothing to build. It’s already paid for. It’s already used to check the legal work status of about half of all new employees hired, since the largest companies and all federal government contractors all use it. Do Democratic leaders resist E-Verify because it works? We now know that the resistance is DESPITE Hispanic support for E-Verify.
And how about chain migration? This term refers to legal immigrants gaining their citizenship, then “sponsoring” their spouse and minor children, plus adult siblings and parents. After these individuals gain their U.S. citizenship, they too can sponsor adult siblings and parents and spouses, in a process that can turn a single legal immigrant into hundreds of new admittees over time.
Turns out that Hispanic voters oppose chain migration by big margins. Fifty-eight percent favor legal immigration being able to sponsor only spouses and minor children, as opposed to 33% who think extended family should also be included. Again, almost every group of Hispanic voters, even Democrats, want to limit who gets to come.
But these are not the only surprise findings in our Hispanic exit polling. Republican Hispanic officeholders have often fought illegal immigration while implying that LEGAL immigration should be increased. What do voters say? Hispanic midterm voters actually want sharply lower legal immigration.
Poll takers were told that about a million legal immigrants come to the U.S. They were then asked what the annual legal immigration number ought to be, Less than 250,000? Half a million? 750,000? A million? A million and a half, or more than 2 million? Thirty-six percent of Hispanic midterm voters chose the very lowest number, less than a quarter-million. In other words, more than a third wanted to slash legal immigration by three-quarters! Adding the “decrease” numbers together, 62% of Hispanic midterm voters want to cut legal immigration from today’s level. How about Democratic Hispanics? 53% of them want immigration cut, too!
• Jim Robb is VP of operations for NumbersUSA and the author of the recently published “Political Migrants: Hispanic Voters on the Move.”
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