The line from this week’s Univision survey of Hispanic voters was “Hillary Clinton has a sizable advantage” over Republicans vying for the party’s nomination. True. But there are some encouraging signs for some GOP candidates.
Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush presents as the closest rival to Clinton among Hispanics according to the Univision survey, so we will use his numbers as a baseline measure. While Clinton’s lead among Hispanic voters is still significant, her support among Hispanics falls below that of Obama’s winning percentage in the swing states noted in the survey. And, Bush’s support already rivals or surpasses Romney’s percentages in these states.
Even seemingly marginal shifts in support among Hispanic voters translates into real votes and can alter outcomes. If Romney had had the Bush percentages in 2012, the result would have been significantly closer in Florida (49.98% for Romney overall), with gains in Nevada, with a wider winning margin in North Carolina. Coupled with Clinton’s weaker standing among Hispanics in these states relative to Obama, there is good potential for a strong GOP candidate.
The goal for Republicans in 2016 is to make gains among Hispanics and close the gap, not necessarily win the Hispanic vote. Given Bush’s starting position rivaling or besting that of the Romney effort in these swing states, there are some positive signs that this is possible. While we are highlighting Bush’s numbers in this post because he is currently testing the strongest of the candidates tested in the Univision poll, the broader point is this … Latinos matter … and margins matter … and both matter a lot in terms of making sure the Republican candidate wins in 2016.