President Trump’s focus on engaging Hispanics in Florida ahead of 2020 has Democrats scrambling to find a message that will recover the votes they lost in the midterms. The top 20 presidential challengers fight it out in Miami this week, and will be walking a fine line between the socialist tendencies that play well in liberal enclaves and the moderate stances that align with Florida’s conservative immigrants.
Market Research Foundation conducted a comprehensive survey of First Generation Americans in 2018, and found that a majority of immigrants are conservative or moderate on policy issues, and those with a college degree hold higher approval ratings of both President Trump and the Republican Party.
A Majority of Florida Immigrants are Conservatives or Moderates on Healthcare
Healthcare is front and center for the slew of 2020 Democrats vying for the nomination, but progressives aren’t likely to get far with Florida immigrants unless they adopt a moderate stance. Healthcare is a policy area where an overwhelming majority identify as moderates, a full 41%. Less than a third identify as liberal or somewhat liberal (29%), and 30% identify as conservative or somewhat conservative. Taken as a whole, 71% of Florida immigrants reject liberal healthcare policies.
Big Government Economic Policies are a Good Way to Lose Florida Immigrants
Economic issues represent another major challenge for far-left Democrats pushing higher taxes, increased regulation, and cumbersome environmental regulation. Florida immigrants represent 30% of self-employed individuals in the state, and unsurprisingly a majority do not embrace the far-left economic policies Democrats increasingly advocate. As shown below, a full 34% of Florida immigrants consider themselves conservative or conservative leaning, and equal shares consider themselves liberal and moderate (33% in both cases). Taken as a group, 67% of Florida immigrants do not consider themselves liberal, or liberal leaning, on economic issues.
Educated Immigrants Present a Unique Challenge for Democrats
Market Research Foundation identified a correlation between higher educated immigrants and support for President Trump and the Republican Party through our First Generation survey. While nationally Clinton’s total share of college educated immigrants was higher than Trump’s in 2016, higher educated immigrants were significantly less likely to support her than lower educated immigrants. Clinton received 69% of the vote among immigrants with a high school education or less, but that dropped to 56% among those with a college degree and just 48% for those with some college. In contrast, only 23% of immigrants with a high school education or less supported Trump, and his share of support rose to 34% among those with college degree and peaked at 42% among those with some college.
Higher education among immigrants also reduces support for Democrats. Thirty-seven percent of immigrants with some college and 34% with a college degree disapprove of the Democrat Party, compared to just 18% of those with a high school education or less. If Democrats are going to eke out a victory in Florida, it’s going to be an uphill battle against the state’s educated immigrant population, since more than one in four adult immigrants has a college degree.
Democrats once spoke of the ‘demographic destiny’ that would carry them to victory as the share of American immigrants peaked, but that dream is in jeopardy. The vast majority of immigrants are moderates or conservatives, and many have direct and devastating experiences with the failures of socialism. What’s more, educational attainment is on the rise, and with higher education comes a more critical view of the Democratic Party.