By Angelo Falcón
The NiLP Report (November 28, 2017)
Latino opinion leaders provided consistent agreement of a wide range of policy issues from the Republican tax plans, the role of the federal government in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, gun control and on immigration issues. They also saw sexual harassment, racial discrimination and opiate addiction as very serious problems within the Latino community, but to different degrees. These were the overall findings of a national survey of 322 Latino opinion leaders conducted in November 2017. This online poll, the National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey, conducted by the nonpartisan National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) provides a unique view on the opinions of the nation’s Latino community leadership not available elsewhere.
The Republican Tax Plan
Overall, the Latino opinion leaders felt that the Republican tax plans currently being considered by the US Congress would be bad for the Latino community. Feeling this way were 85 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders, and 94 percent each of the Puerto Ricans and Other Latinos.
We also asked about specific provisions of the proposals to change the tax system. They were most negative about the following provisions:
- Making individual tax cuts temporary and corporate tax cuts permanent (95 percent opposed)
- Eliminating the ability to deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest (92 percent opposed)
- Eliminating deductions for state and local income and sales taxes (89 percent opposed)
- Eliminating the Obamacare individual mandate resulting in federal government no longer enforcing the requirement that all individuals have insurance or pay a fine (86 percent opposed)
- Repealing the estate tax, which applies only to those estates that are worth at least 5.5 million dollars (84 percent opposed)
The tax plan provisions getting the most support from the Latino opinion leaders were:
- Increasing the maximum child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 for children under age 17 (85 percent favor)
- Increasing the standard deduction that taxpayers can take if they do not itemize their deductions (52 percent favor)
- Allowing the home interest deduction only on the first $500,000 of mortgage debt (35 percent favor)
The biggest differences in support of these tax change proposed provisions were as follows:
Increasing the standard deduction received its greatest support from the Mexican opinion leaders (61 percent favor), compared to 50 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 45 percent of Other Latinos.
The Mexican opinion leaders were also the most supportive of lowering the amount of home mortgage debt that could be deducted. The Mexican percentage favoring this provision was 40 percent, compared to 35 percent of Puerto Ricans and 26 percent of Other Latinos. The homeownership rate, by the way, of Mexican-Americans is 48.2 percent, compared to 36.9 percent for stateside Puerto Ricans.
With the spate of recent mass shootings, the issue of gun control regained national attention. The Latino opinion leaders were asked which proposals to limit gun violence they supported.
Those gun control proposals they most supported were:
- A ban on the sale and possession of equipment known as high-capacity or extended ammunition magazines, which allow some guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before they need to be reloaded (favored by 92 percent).
- A ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of high-powered rifles capable of semi-automatic fire, such as the AR-15 (favored by 90 percent).
- How would you rate the job FEMA has done in handling the hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico? (favored by 76 percent).
The gun control proposal receiving the least support was preventing all Americans from owning guns (opposed by 64 percent). This was influenced by the ideology of the Latino opinion leaders, opposed by 57 percent of the progressives, 61 percent of the liberals, but by 79 percent of moderates and 90 percent of conservatives.
Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief
There has been considerable controversy over the adequacy of the federal hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico when compared to its Reponses to this problem in Texas and Florida. The Latino opinion leaders were asked to assess the job that FEMA has done handling the crisis in Puerto Rico. They were all very negative, with 78 percent of the Puerto Rican opinion leaders rated its performance “poor,” compared to 85 percent of the Mexicans and 88 percent of other Latinos.
Looking at the internal response to the crisis within Puerto Rico, the Latino opinion leaders to rate the job done by Puerto Rico’s Governor, Ricardo Roselló. He rated better than FEMA with the Puerto Rican opinion leaders, who still saw his role negatively with 65 percent rated it “poor.” The Mexicans and Other Latinos viewed his role more positively, with 40 percent of the Mexicans and 49 percent of the Other Latinos rated his performance as “poor” This difference no doubt reflects the impact of media coverage of the disaster on the Island that broadly focused on the federal government’s failure, while Puerto Ricans, as the most directly affected were also getting information directly from relatives and friends on the Island.
The Latino opinion leaders were also extremely pessimistic about the federal government providing sufficient resources to help Puerto Rico fully rebuild. Thinking that the federal government would not was 96 percent of all three groups.
With the DACA issue before the Congress as a result of Trump’s eventually ending the program, the issue of immigration has risen again. The Latino opinion leaders were asked “Which comes closest to your view about undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children?” They were all almost unanimous in agreeing that “They should be allowed to stay in the United States and to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship,” a position supported by 99 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders, 94 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 96 percent of the Other Latinos.
The Latino opinion leaders were asked if they were confident that “Congress and President Trump will enact new laws on immigration and border security that will improve the way the country handles this issue?” Responding that they were “not confident at all” were 80 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders, 74 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 69 percent of the Other Latinos.
Another immigration issue that has arisen is Trump’s ending of the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) affecting refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti and other covered countries. Large majorities of the Latino opinion leaders supported the extension of this program: 81 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders, 72 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 77 percent of the Other Latinos.
Within Latino Community
With the Weinstein revelations, the problem of sexual harassment and assault against women has come to the fore. The Latino opinion leaders were asked how serious a problem this was in the Latino community in terms of Latino on Latina harassment. The majority of the Puerto Rican opinion leaders (58 percent) and the Mexicans (51 percent) viewed this as a “very serious” problem compared to 43 percent of the Other Latinos.
Although more women than men saw this as a “very serious| problem, the difference was not that great. That thinking this is a “very serious” problem were 57 percent of the women compared to 52 percent of the men.
Within Latino Community
Given the Latino populations multiracial character, the problem of racial discrimination between Latinos has been an important concern for Afro-Latinos and the Latino indigenous. The Latino opinion leaders were asked if this saw this internal racial discrimination as a serious problem within the Latino community. Those seeing it as a “very serious” problem were 35 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders, 36 percent of the Puerto Ricans and 35 percent of the Other Latinos. Very few did not see it as a serious problem or not a problem at all: 14 percent of the Puerto Rican opinion leaders, 11 percent of the Mexicans and 12 percent of the Other Latinos.
The problem of racial discrimination within the Latino community was seen as a “very serious” problem differently according to the Latino opinion leader’s views of the racial-ethnic identity of Latinos. It was seen more of a problem by those who didn’t identify racially or ethnically (45 percent), than those who saw Latinos as a racial group (35 percent) or an ethnic group (29 percent). Does racial or ethnic nationalism tend to minimize perceptions of this problem?
Within Latino Community
The problem of opiate addiction in the United States in general has reached a level prompting Trump to designate it as a national emergency. Also a problem in the Latino community, we asked the Latino opinion leaders how serious a problem it is. Seeing it as a “very serious” problem were 46 percent of the Puerto Rican opinion leaders, but only 25 percent of the Mexicans and 14 percent of the Other Latinos. However, much smaller percentages of each saw it as not a serious problem or not a problem at all: 12 percent of the Mexican opinion leaders, 6 percent of the Puerto Ricans, and 19 percent of the Other Latinos.
Regionally, the opiate problem was seen by the Latino opinion leaders as “very serious” more in the Northeast (42 percent). It was viewed as “very serious” by 32 percent in the Midwest, 29 percent in the South, and 26 percent in the West.
The Latino opinion leaders showed a high degree of agreement in the way they viewed the issues presented to them in this survey. As mostly generated by the Trump Administration and the Republican Congress, the Latino opinion leaders were largely in opposition to most of these policies. Although they thought the Republican tax plans, for example, were bad for the Latino community, they did favor some provisions they contained.
The Latino opinion leaders were strongly supportive of gun control measures, were critical of FEMA’s role in Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief efforts, and were skeptical of the federal government ability to adopt useful immigration reform. They also viewed sexual harassment as more if a “very serious” problem than racial discrimination and opiate addiction within their community.
This survey was conducted on November 16-22, 2017 and includes 322 respondents from throughout the United States Since this is not a scientifically derived sample of community leaders, our results are only suggestive but we believe they can be useful in putting the issues involved in some context. The pool for these respondents is made up of experienced Latino professionals and academics in all fields. Please note that their views are not generalizable to the entire Latino adult population in the United States but may be to this particular activist/professional stratum.
The National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) has been trying to track elite Latino opinion on the Trump Administration through our National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey. Previous to the current survey, we conducted one in March, May and July also focusing on Trump. The purpose is to see if Latino leadership views of this Administration have worsened, improved or stayed the same. This approach is an effort to go beyond the opinion of only specific individuals and organizations to a wider range of leaders from throughout the country.
To our knowledge, no comparable ongoing survey of Latino opinion leaders exists at present. The National Latino Opinion Leaders Survey, therefore, is a unique resource that provides yet another window into the views of this important segment of the national electorate. Because there are no clear parameters for determining the precise demographic mix of Latino opinion leaders, we do not report on the results of this survey for the total respondents but rather report on specific subsets. The main subsets we use consists of the main racial-ethnic groups represented — Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and Other Latinos (which consists of other Central and South Americans).
Angelo Falcón is President of the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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