Tony Affigne, professor of political science at Providence College, spoke on Wednesday about the effect of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign on the Latinx electorate in a lecture titled “Building a Wall or Digging a Hole: Donald Trump and the Latinx Electorate.”
The lecture, held in Barnum Hall, was hosted by the Latino Studies Program, the Department of Political Science, the Department of Sociology and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.
Affigne began the lecture by expressing his confidence that the election would be decided in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“The cookie’s already baked,” Affigne said of the election’s outcome. “The election’s been over for some time.”
Affigne said one reason for his certainty of a Clinton win is that battleground states in the Midwest have been polling in favor of Clinton. He continued by saying that Latinx populations in other battleground states were being under-surveyed and that they were the demographic most likely to vote for Clinton. According to Affigne, the percentage of Latinx citizens in favor of Clinton was nearly 90 percent.
Affigne first discussed “Latino Emergence,” a term describing the Latinx population boom. According to Affigne, the Latinx population in the United States grew by 43 percent between 2000 and 2010, while the white population grew by just one percent.
As a result of the “Emergence”, about 57 million Latinx now live in the U.S., a demographic that is primarily Mexican but includes Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Salvadorans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and Colombians.
This growing Latinx demographic, Affigne said, could have provided a needed push for Obama during his 2012 run for re-election.
“The national election of 2012 was the first one where Latinx electorates may have determined the outcome,” Affigne said.
Affigne described what he said was a failure by Trump to treat the Latinx electorate with respect. Affigne referred to Trump’s claim that some immigrants from Mexico were “rapists” and “murderers,” his plans for a “big wall” along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, his promises of a “humane” deportation force and his denigration of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, a Latinx American citizen, as “Miss Housekeeping.”
Affigne supported his claims by pointing to a 75 percent unfavorable rating from Hispanics regarding Trump in October. According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll held in July, 14 percent of Latinx supported Trump and 76 percent supported Clinton.
“It’s clear that there’s something going on with Latinos,” Affigne said regarding polling numbers.
Affigne said that Latinx voters are continuing to mobilize as Nov. 8 draws nearer, adding that between 13.1 million and 14.7 million Latinx will vote in 2016, according to a weekly tracking poll released by Latino Decisions this week.
“As we get closer to the election, more Latinx voters are paying attention to the election,” Affigne said.
Latino Decisions also projected that 79 percent of Latinx would vote for Clinton, a number Affigne believes is based in Hispanic antipathy for Trump.
“Latinos are settling on a candidate and they don’t like Trump any more than they did a year ago,” Affigne said. “In fact, they like him less than they did a year ago, and they’re excited about the possibility of making sure he doesn’t win.”
Affigne also mused that Trump may have affected the future of US politics and the GOP. He particularly felt that the hostility directed toward minority voters, which he said was instigated by Trump, might exacerbate growing racial tensions in the country.
“Trump has energized the ‘alt-right,’” Affigne said, referring to a segment of far-right wingers that generally embrace white nationalism and reject many of the tenets of traditional conservatism. “He has made their ideas acceptable again.”
Affigne also believed that Republicans might have lost their opportunity to attract a generation of young Latinx voters.
“Trump may have reversed a trend that has existed for decades in the US, by which Latinos become more conservative and more Republican as they move through generations,” Affigne said.
At the same time, the Latinx impact on the election is expected to be markedly greater than in previous elections, with an estimated 27.3 million Latinx being eligible to vote this year.
“Trump’s campaign appears to have sparked record Hispanic registration in key states,” Affigne said. “As the Latino electorate grows more powerful, you can thank [Trump].”
The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer session.
Associate Professor of Sociology Helen Marrow, who introduced Affigne at the start of the event, spoke to the Daily about her thoughts on the lecture.
“I think the presentation was wonderful,” Marrow said. “I really liked the content. It was exciting, we’re one week away. I felt invigorated and even hopeful about the election coming out of that.”