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Government and Politics

Central Coast Latino Voices: The November Presidential Election

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Randol White/KCBX News
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A recent hardline speech on immigration by Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is cause for concern among influential Latinos who had previously shown support for the candidate. 

Several of his Hispanic surrogates are questioning whether they can continue — or have pulled support all together.

Trump made his comments back on Wednesday in Phoenix after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto earlier in the day. The candidate reinforced his plan to deport the millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally and focused on those who commit crimes, saying he’d enforce a "zero tolerance" policy.

Meanwhile, a poll taken at the end of August shows Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton doing far better with Hispanics than Trump. The survey done by polling firm Latino Decisions shows Clinton with 70 percent support over Trump’s 19 percent.

KCBX Reporter Geovanni Ximenez Garcia spoke with immigrants living here on the Central Coast to get a sense of where support stands for the Presidential Candidates within local Hispanic communities. We should note, these comments were made prior to Trump’s controversial speech:

Alfredo Murillo works in Santa Maria. He became a citizen a couple years ago and says this will be the first election in which he gets to vote. He supports Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton because he doesn’t like what he’s heard Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump say.

“The way he stands or like the way he expresses himself isn’t really a form of someone who can lead the country,” Murillo said.

Murillo is not alone in his sentiment about Donald Trump. Consistently, polls show Clinton doing much better among Latinos and Hispanics. However, not all the people we spoke with are persuaded to vote for either of the major-party candidates.

Mirna Ortiz is from Monterey. She has voted in numerous elections since she became a citizen in 1992, but said she isn’t content with the candidates for the upcoming presidential election.

“I’m a little disappointed with how things have turned out for both the Republicans and the Democrats and I’m not very happy with the options,” Ortiz said.

She said she hasn’t decided yet what she’ll do on Election Day.

Eulalia Gutierrez became a citizen last year and now lives in San Luis Obispo. She said some Latino voters are turning to Hillary Clinton even if they aren’t completely convinced.

“A lot of Latinos don’t like Trump, that’s the reality. In order for him not to win, Latinos like the other party who is against it, so they go more towards Hillary even if she’s not the best candidate and wasn’t their first option,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said she’s one of those, and doesn’t think it’s realistic to vote for a third-party candidate. “Everyone is going towards Democrat or the Republican, that’s how usually it is. Even if I vote for another party, the chances of them winning are lower than the two big parties.”

There are also Latino voters who told KCBX they won’t be voting altogether. Francisco Granados from Guadalupe in Santa Barbara County said this is the second election he can participate in, but he will not be voting for any candidate because he’s frustrated with the things he’s seen and heard.

“There’s just too much gossip, a lot of political corruption, and lies in the media. There are many reasons why I don’t support any candidate,” Granados said.

Ortiz said Trump has more work to do in order to attract Latino voters, but doesn’t believe there’s much he can do so late into the campaign especially given his previous comments.

“He’s crazy and he just says things without thinking or without really considering the consequences and now that he’s started to strengthen his campaign, he’s not really going to get much Latino support,” Ortiz said.

During campaign appearances, Donald Trump said he is popular with Hispanic voters, but we were unable to confirm that here on the Central Coast.

We reached out on several occasions to local Republican Party offices in Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. Those offices either didn’t get back to us, or did but were never able to provide somebody willing to share their views in support of the GOP presidential candidate.