Surprising Takeaways on Hispanic Concerns in Latest CBS News/YouGov Poll

Gloomier on the economy, and less approving of Biden’s border policies — ‘It’s still the economy, stupid.’

By Andrew R. Arthur on May 25, 2023

In a recent post, I discussed a recent CBS New/YouGov poll that had a heavy focus on immigration and the border. Overall, it revealed concerns about the economy and disapproval of President Biden’s performance. Both of those issues were particularly keen amongst one surprising demographic group — Hispanic Americans.

The poll was conducted for CBS News by opinion outfit YouGov and involved 2,188 U.S. adults sampled between May 17 and 19 — that is, days after Title 42 expired. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The State of the Union. Respondents were given four options in response to a question about how they felt things were going in the United States: very well, somewhat well, somewhat badly, and very badly.

Overall, just 5 percent of those polled felt that things were going very well, and less than a quarter, 23 percent, felt they were going somewhat well.

On the flip side, 38 percent of respondents overall thought things were going somewhat badly, and 34 percent answered that things were going very badly in the country. That’s not a healthy view of the current state of the Union.

Hispanics were less likely to view things as going very well in the United States — it was the choice of just 4 percent of them. That said, they were slightly more likely to say that they felt things were going somewhat well (26 percent).

It should be noted, however, that they were also more likely to say that they felt things were going somewhat badly, a 40 percent response, but at the same time less likely to say that things were going very badly, which polled at 30 percent among this demographic.

Taken in toto, the responses of Hispanic Americans to this question revealed that their sense of the direction of the country was similar to that of Americans overall — an important takeaway for any candidate focused on the “Hispanic” vote.

Condition of the National Economy. If Hispanics are slightly more sanguine about the direction of the country, they are much dourer about the condition of the U.S. economy.

As with the question about the general state of the country, respondents were given four options when asked to rate the condition of the national economy today: very good, fairly good, fairly bad, or very bad.

If that poll is any guide, Americans have significant money concerns, with just 29 percent giving the economy a rating of very good (5 percent) or fairly good (24 percent). By contrast, 65 percent rated it fairly bad (33 percent) or very bad (32 percent).

As bad as that is, the grades Hispanic Americans give the economy are even worse. Some 67 percent of respondents in this demographic say that the economy is currently either fairly bad (35 percent) or very bad (32 percent, in line with Americans as a whole).

Just a quarter — 25 percent — of them rate the U.S. economy as either fairly good (23 percent) or very good (2 percent — within the margin of error).

In a December 2021 piece titled “The Democrats’ Hispanic Voter Problem, It's Not As Bad As You Think — It’s Worse”, liberal political scientist Ruy Teixeira explained: “The reality of the Hispanic population is that they are, broadly speaking, an overwhelmingly working class, economically progressive, socially moderate constituency that cares above all about jobs, the economy and health care.”

If that’s true, it suggests that Hispanic votes in the upcoming 2024 election are up for grabs and will go to whichever candidates they believe can turn the sinking U.S. economy around.

Biden Job Approval. President Biden plainly has a ways to go in that regard according to the CBS News/YouGov poll.

As I explained in that earlier post, the president is 18 points underwater on his overall approval rating, with just 41 percent of respondents approving of his general performance compared to 59 percent who disapprove.

Interestingly, those are the same grades that Hispanic respondents to that poll gave the president, suggesting that, when it comes to Biden at least, there is not much daylight politically between Hispanics and their fellow Americans.

Immigration and the Border. In that vein, and significantly, Biden receives low marks from Hispanics when it comes to two topics that have traditionally been viewed by many as important to them — immigration and the border.

Overall, 36 percent of respondents to the CBS News/YouGov poll approved of Biden’s handling of immigration, compared to 64 percent who disapproved. Hispanic respondents were slightly harsher on the president in this area, with just 35 percent approving of the job the president is doing when it comes to immigration and 65 percent disapproving.

As surprising as that may be, the poll has bigger revelations yet.

According to that poll, 63 percent of Americans disapprove “of the way Joe Biden is handling matters concerning the U.S.-Mexico border”, while 37 are happy with the job the president is doing.

Biden actually performs much worse when it comes to his handing of the border amongst Hispanics, 67 percent of whom disapprove compared to just 33 percent of whom approve. That’s a real four-point shift in each direction, suggesting that the president’s current border policies are not sitting well with this burgeoning demographic.

Congressional Republicans, however, should take note of the fact that they score lower yet on this issue among Hispanics, with just 25 percent of them approving of the job the GOP is doing in handling the border compared to 75 percent who disapprove — which suggests that they may want to either temper their message or make real improvements at the border (or both) if they want to court these key voters.

Part of the reason why congressional Republicans are doing worse on border issues in the estimation of Hispanic voters than the president is can likely be found in their responses to a separate question.

CBS News/YouGov asked respondents whether they thought that the Biden administration should be either tougher or easier on immigrants crossing the border, or conversely is handling things there the way they should be.

Overall, 58 percent of respondents thought Biden should be tougher, 20 percent thought he should be easier, and 22 thought he was handling border issues just fine.

A plurality, 41 percent, of Hispanics thought that the president should be tougher at the border, but a significant minority of them, 36 percent, thought that Biden should be treating immigrants easier, and 23 percent thought that he was handling things there correctly. That is a significant discrepancy between Hispanics and Americans overall.

That said, whereas 68 percent of respondents overall have been paying a lot of attention (26 percent) or some attention (42 percent) to what is going on at the Southwest border, just 58 percent of Hispanics have been paying either a lot of (17 percent) or some (41 percent) attention to what’s happening there.

Some 42 percent of Hispanics admitted to paying either not much (32 percent) or no (10 percent) attention to what’s occurring at the U.S.-Mexico line, compared to 25 percent of overall respondents who haven’t been paying much attention to the goings-on there and 7 percent who haven’t paid attention at all — 32 percent in total.

“It’s the Economy, Stupid.” In 1992, Bill Clinton’s political analyst, Jim Carville, coined a phrase that has stood the test of time: “It’s the economy, stupid.” If you want to win elections, focus on voters’ pocketbooks.

For decades, “experts” have insisted that candidates should promote open borders and amnesty to win Hispanic votes. The most recent polling suggests, however, that while Hispanics may want slightly “gentler” immigration policies than Americans as a whole, they’re not really focused on it. Like their fellow voters, for Hispanic Americans, “It’s still the economy stupid.”