Martin says it’s no exaggeration that Donald Trump’s campaign, with its references to “Mexican” judges and “rapists and thugs” from across the border, could cost the Republican party the Latino vote for generations, but she says it’s not entirely his fault.
“Trump is worsening an already extant problem,” Martin says. “It’s unfair to blame Trump for all of it because (2012 Republican nominee) Mitt Romney, with his ‘self-deportation’ comment reversed the good will generated by George Bush, who spoke Spanish and had a good relationship with the Mexican-American community.”
So the vote was already sliding away when Trump, instead of reaching out to it, pushed it off a cliff.
The rest of the Republican Party isn’t doing much to help the situation, either.
“The look on Paul Ryan’s face earlier this week, I think he was about to turn back the clock a week and refuse to endorse Trump again,” Martin says. “I still can’t believe Ryan used the phrase ‘textbook racist,’ but then said Trump is still better for Republican policies than Hillary.”
“The only Republican who seemed authentic this week and spoke with any degree of dignity was Lindsey Graham when he said he’s been a Republican his whole life, but he won’t vote for either of this year’s candidates,” Martin adds. “But I don’t know that there’s enough Lindsey Graham’s in the party to prevent Trump’s anti-Hispanic comments from staining it for years to come.”
Trump has softened his tone since the weekend, but Martin says it remains to be seen if he can keep his cool long enough for it to matter.
“The problem is Trump won the nomination from this behavior,” Martin says. “He learned that if you say something extreme, you get a big reaction and people turn out and vote for you. The problem is, he already got all those people who support his rhetoric, and there aren’t enough of them to win a general election this fall.”
In the Democratic race, Martin thinks the talk of Sanders wanting input on the party’s platform is overblown.
“Sanders will want a voice on significant issues, but mostly he wants to be respected,” Martin says. “He knows as well as anybody that nobody is bound by the platform, so he won’t put his chips on it. That would make no sense. He wants to be seen as a significant player and he wants his issues to be carried forward, and that’s bigger than the convention for him.”
Sanders has more than threats of a contested convention to cajole Clinton toward giving him the respect he desires, says Martin.
“Clinton can read polls as well as anyone and she can see that every single poll says her unfavorables are high, especially for people 30 and under or 40 and under, and Sanders’ favorability is huge there,” Martin says. “It’s not a joke that he can help her there. If she gets even 50 percent of the support from Sanders that she eventually gave Obama in 2008, she’ll open her lead again and her news cycles will get real positive again. That’s Sanders’ power.”
Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts. She can discuss:
- economic messages in political campaigns
- presidential campaign strategy
- religious voters and evangelical social movements