February 23, 2017

Latinos and the New Trump Administration

3. Looking back: The Obama administration

Latinos offer mixed views on Barack Obama’s tenure as president. Roughly half (48%) of Latino adults say the administration’s accomplishments will outweigh its failures, while 36% say its failures will outweigh its accomplishments. Latinos’ views of the Obama administration are generally in line with those of the U.S. general public, half (49%) of whom say they expect the administration’s accomplishments to outweigh its failures, compared with 44% who say the opposite.

Hispanics’ views of the Obama administration today are more positive than they were about the George W. Bush administration in 2008. Then, just 19% of Hispanics said the Bush administration’s accomplishments would outweigh its failures. At the same time, 54% of Hispanics in 2008 said the Bush administration’s failures would outweigh its accomplishments. The general public in 2009 held similar views about the Bush administration. Almost a quarter (24%) said that administration would be remembered for its accomplishments more than its failures, while 64% said failures would outweigh successes.

While 52% of U.S.-born Hispanics believe that the Obama administration’s accomplishments will outweigh its failures, a smaller share (45%) of immigrant Hispanics hold the same view.

Views of the Obama administration’s accomplishments also vary among Hispanic immigrants depending on their legal status. For example, half (50%) of Hispanic immigrants who are U.S. citizens and 49% of Hispanic lawful permanent residents believe that the Obama administration’s accomplishments will outweigh its failures. Almost four-in-ten Hispanic immigrants who do not hold U.S. citizenship and do not hold a green card (37%) say the administration’s accomplishments will outweigh its failures, with an equal share saying the opposite (and 25% saying they don’t know). It is this latter group of Hispanics that Obama targeted with an expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that would have extended deportation relief to about 4 million of all the nation’s unauthorized immigrants.6 However, the proposal never took effect after an appeals court sided with several states that brought a lawsuit that sought to block the programs, a decision affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

About the same share of Latino men (47%) and women (50%) say they expect the Obama administration’s accomplishments to outweigh its failures. But the survey also finds that men are more likely than women to say the administration’s failures will outweigh its accomplishments – 41% compared with 31%.

Six-in-ten Latinos with at least some college education agree that Obama’s administration will be remembered more for its accomplishments than its failures. This is a higher share than among those who have not completed high school (38%) and those with only a high school diploma (43%).

The sharpest differences in views of the Obama administration among Hispanics are by political party identification, with Democrats giving a more positive assessment, while Republicans offer a strongly negative assessment. Two-thirds (66%) of Hispanic Democrats say the administration will be remembered more for its accomplishments than its failures, while just 19% say the opposite. By comparison, only one-third (33%) of Hispanic Republicans have a positive view of the Obama administration’s accomplishments, while almost six-in-ten (59%) say the administration’s failures will outweigh its accomplishments. Meanwhile, Hispanic independents are split in their assessment of the Obama administration: 42% say its accomplishments will outweigh its failures, while 45% say its failures will outweigh its accomplishments.

  1. The decision was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 4-4 tie that left the appeals court ruling in place. Overall, 78% of the nation’s 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants are from Latin America.