October 11, 2016

Democrats Maintain Edge as Party ‘More Concerned’ for Latinos, but Views Similar to 2012

3. Views of the nation’s direction and 2016’s top issues

Since 2012, Hispanics have grown more dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. And many Hispanics rate education and the economy as key issues in this year’s presidential election, which is something they have done in past years, including 2012.

Growing dissatisfaction with the nation’s direction since 2012

Indeed, the new Pew Research Center survey shows that 57% of Hispanic registered voters say they are dissatisfied with the nation’s direction, up from 50% in 2012. At the same time, the share of Latino voters satisfied with the nation’s direction has dropped from 45% in 2012 to 37% today.

Latino registered voters are more satisfied than the general public with the direction of the country. However, the gap between the two groups has started to close over the past year as satisfaction among the general public has increased. Today, 28% of U.S. voters say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, a level unchanged from 2012. As a result, the gap between Latino registered voters and U.S. registered voters stands at 8 percentage points, down from a 17- point gap in 2012.

There are some differences among key demographic subgroups of Hispanic registered voters in their views of the country’s direction. Among Hispanic registered voters, immigrants are more upbeat than U.S.-born Hispanics about the way things are going in the country today. The new survey shows 45% of immigrant registered voters are satisfied with the nation’s direction, with an equal share dissatisfied. By contrast, 33% of U.S.-born Hispanics say they are satisfied with the nation’s direction while 63% say they are dissatisfied.

Just as with the general public, views of the country’s direction differ depending on which presidential candidate Latino voters support. Among Clinton backers, Latino voters are split, with equal shares satisfied (47%) and dissatisfied (47%) with the nation’s direction. By contrast, nearly eight-in-ten (79%) Trump supporters say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country today while just 16% say they are satisfied. Among all registered voters, 55% of Clinton supporters are satisfied and 41% dissatisfied with the direction of the country. By contrast, 96% of registered voters who support Trump are dissatisfied and 4% satisfied with the way things are going in the country today.

Education, the economy top issues for Latinos in 2016

Latino registered voters say education is a top issue for them when deciding who to vote for in the 2016 presidential election, with 83% saying it is very important, according to the new survey.

Other issues Hispanic voters rate as very important to their vote this year include the economy (80%), health care (78%) and terrorism (73%). A lower share rates immigration (70%) as a top issue. The lowest-rated issues among Hispanic voters are how Hispanics are treated in the U.S. (69%) and gun policy (61%).

Many Latino voters born outside the U.S. rate a variety of issues as very important. For example, nearly all (91%) of Latino immigrant voters say education is a very important issue for them when deciding who to vote for in the 2016 presidential election, compared with 80% of U.S.-born Latino voters. One exception is the issue of immigration, with roughly equal shares of Latino immigrant voters (74%) and U.S.-born Latino voters (68%) rating the issue as “very important.”

Older Hispanic registered voters tend to rate more issues as very important than do younger Hispanic who are registered to vote. For example, education (86%) and the economy (86%) rate as very important issues among non-Millennial Hispanic voters. By comparison, lower shares of Hispanic Millennial voters rated education (79%) and the economy (72%) as very important issues. The largest difference between these groups is on the issue of gun policy, with 69% of Hispanic non-Millennial voters and 50% of Hispanic Millennial voters rating it as a very important issue – a 19-percentage-point gap.

This year’s findings for top issues reflect those of past elections as Hispanics have long rated immigration behind education and the economy as top issues.3 In 2012, 55% of Hispanic registered voters rated education as an extremely important issue to them personally, followed closely by jobs and the economy (54%) and health care (50%), with immigration (34%) ranking lower. Hispanic voters rated the issues similarly in 2008, with education (47%), health care (42%) and jobs (41%) rated as extremely important issues, with immigration (30%) not rating as highly.

  1. Past Pew Research Center surveys of Latinos have asked about top issues differently. In the 2008 and 2012 National Surveys of Latinos, respondents were asked to respond to the following: “Now I’m going to read you a list of issues that might be discussed during this year’s presidential campaign. For each item I name, please tell me how important this issue is to you personally.” In addition, the 2012 survey asked about the issue “jobs and the economy,” while the 2008 survey asked about “jobs.” The 2008 and 2012 surveys also asked respondents to rate issues as “very important” and “extremely important.” By contrast, the 2016 NSL asked respondents to rate issues as “somewhat important” and “very important” and asked how the issues related to their vote in 2016.