"Nuestro amigo"? CBS finds Trump support near the border among Hispanics

At some point, one has to believe that the national media will go full bore on Donald Trump — but today is not that day, it seems. CBS News went down to the US-Mexico border area in Texas, and found support for the Republican nominee in the area among Hispanic voters. The reason? They want the border secured too, and cite the same crimes in their communities as Trump has on the stump. And they claim to be tired of the “political correctness” that constrains the debate over border security:

Yet along the Texas-Mexico border, Trump enjoys a well of support among Hispanic Americans that some might find surprising.

Texas has the second largest Latino population in the nation, including nearly five million eligible Hispanic voters. In the Texas Republican primary March 1, Trump came in a distant second, winning just six of the state’s 254 counties. He did better than average in border towns with a high proportion of Hispanic voters.

Tony Castaneda, the grandson of Mexican immigrants, cast one of those votes for Trump. …

“He’s very blunt. I’m blunt too. Maybe that’s why I like some of his positions, because he’s not a side shooter. You know, he talks directly, directly to the point. Maybe that needs to be polished up a bit to be politically correct, but I don’t think he wants to be politically correct. We’re tired of politically correct people occupying the White House and occupying positions of government that represent us. We don’t want to hear the politically correct response. We want to hear the truth.”

This will come as good news to the RNC, which just conducted a reshuffling of its Latino outreach group. The new leader will come from Jeb Bush’s defunct campaign, which might raise an eyebrow or two in both the Bush and Trump camps:

The Republican National Committee has hired an ex-Jeb Bush campaign adviser to reach out to Hispanic voters and encourage them to vote for Donald Trump in November.

Helen Aguirre Ferré, who served as a senior adviser to Bush during his run for president, will become the RNC’s new director of Hispanic communications as the party looks to repair Trump’s broken relationship with Hispanic voters.

Bush, who ended his presidential bid in February, has refused to endorse Trump.

That might makes things a bit awkward, but not as awkward as it might otherwise have been. The previous director, Ruth Guerra, left the post yesterday reportedly because she couldn’t support the party nominee:

The head of Hispanic media relations at the Republican National Committee is resigning this month in what appears to be another indication of the lingering discomfort some party officials have about working to elect Donald J. Trump president.

Ruth Guerra, who is of Mexican descent and was in charge of carrying the party’s message to Hispanic voters, is joining the American Action Network, a Republican-aligned “super PAC,” she confirmed in a brief interview on Wednesday.

The American Action Network is expected to spend millions on congressional races, and the new job is in essence a promotion, one co-worker said.

But Ms. Guerra told colleagues this year that she was uncomfortable working for Mr. Trump, according two R.N.C. aides who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the difficulties surrounding the party’s presumptive standard-bearer.

The CBS News report offers at least more balance on the issue of Hispanic voters and the Trump campaign, and Republicans had better appreciate it while it lasts. As this campaign drags out, the media is much more likely to focus on opposition to Trump in significant demographics, and Hispanics most of all. Team Trump won’t get a lot of plaudits in the mainstream media after the conventions are over, so bookmark this for its novelty.

However, let’s not forget that this is Texas, after all. Mitt Romney won Texas in 2012 by sixteen points, and John McCain won it by eleven points. There are no exit polls for Texas in 2012, but the 2008 exits showed McCain winning 35% of the Hispanic vote in Texas, and winning 31% of the overall Hispanic vote. (Romney got 27% of the national Hispanic vote in 2012.) One can expect a Republican to slightly overperform in this demographic in Texas, a state where conservatism has a much stronger draw. Also, as friendly as this report is, it’s anecdotal. Getting 27% of the Hispanic vote in 2012 meant that Republicans could have found plenty of testimonials like this for Romney, too — roughly three million-plus anecdotes, to be somewhat more precise. That wouldn’t prove Romney was competitive in the demographic, but just that he didn’t get shut out of it.

Trump won’t get shut out of it either, but so far there’s very little evidence to show that he’ll do much better than Romney. So far. It will behoove everyone to watch and see how this develops and to pay attention to data rather than anecdotes. That’s the value of this CBS News segment, too — a reminder that a media meme is not necessarily reality, and that campaigns can sometimes come up with big surprises.

David Strom 7:01 PM on September 24, 2022