They’re young, they’re Latino, and they’re Republican. That makes the eight voters I interviewed in Las Vegas, Nevada a political minority. A 2014 survey by Pew Research found that only 35% of 18-29 year-old registered Latino voters said they were Republican or lean Republican. Thus, these young voters represent an opportunity for the GOP: a chance to make in-roads with Latinos and millennials in particular, who represent the fastest-growing portion of the Latino electorate.
But these voters also represent the challenges of the Republican presidential primary. In response to some GOP candidates’ anti-immigrant rhetoric, all eight voters said they would consider switching their party registration.
“It makes me a little leery about wanting to vote Republican,” Veronica, 33, told me. “How do we know that one immigrant doesn’t have the cure for cancer?”
“Right now I just feel like the Republican Party doesn’t have anybody,” Favien, 29, said. “I mean, Trump doesn’t have the experience.”
What’s more, these voters expressed extreme political fluidity—changing their opinions and rankings over the course of our discussion. For example, in pre-interviews, two participants stated support for Senator Marco Rubio, but one hour later said they were leaning toward Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. Another two of the eight young Republicans are considering voting for Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.
According to Fernand Amandi, whose firm Bendixen & Amandi sourced our participants, this fluidity isn’t surprising.
“For a generation that worships at the altar of what’s trending, what’s viral, and who or what is dominating the social media landscape, it’s no surprise that there is such a fluidity of opinion among millennials as they shop for different candidates in what is for many of them, their first presidential election, ” Amandi told me. “Millennials have shown they’ll switch from an iPhone to an Android overnight, so why not for a presidential candidate?”
The group also reflected the limited impact of a candidate’s ethnic background on voter choice. While half of the participants said they were leaning toward Cruz, who is of Cuban-descent, when asked if they felt a sense of pride in response to Cruz and fellow Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio’s prominence in the field, the group uniformly rejected the premise. One participant boldly summed up the disconnect between Mexican-American voters and Cuban-American candidates noting “we don’t cross the same border.”
Watch the full discussion below:
Note: A random list of eight registered Republican voters ages 18 to 34 were sourced by Bendixen & Amandi International from the Las Vegas area. Prospective respondents were contacted randomly, and a diverse sampling of voters were screened to qualify for this research study.
Jorge Ramos and Alicia Menendez discuss Latino voters in Nevada ahead of the primary