If you believe Donald Trump supporters, you might be forgiven for thinking that the United States is diving headfirst into a very bad place. But if you talked to a group of Latinos—let's be honest, there's virtually no crossover—you could get a whole different picture on the nation's trajectory.
According to a poll released this morning by the Pew Research Center, Latinos in the U.S. are more optimistic than everyone else, particularly when it comes to expectations about their personal finances.
The poll has tracked the general public's opinions on financial matters from 2004, through the Great Recession years, and into late 2015, when the latest survey was conducted. Since the dark times of 2007 and 2008, the general public has barely shifted upwards on questions about financial confidence, while Latinos have gained dramatically.
In cases where Latinos aren't feeling better than the general public, trends suggest they soon will be.
There's a bunch of reasons for this. For one, between 2009 and 2013, Latinos accounted for an estimated 43.4% of job growth, according to Pew. Separately, the purchasing power of Latinos has exploded in recent years, outpacing that of whites, blacks and Asian-American groups.
Of course, this isn't to say that Latino-Americans don't have their share of problems. When it comes to key economic indicators like household wealth, income and poverty levels, they are still well behind the general public.
Since Pew started measuring these things back in 2004, it has found that Latinos are consistently more optimistic about their future than the rest of the population. But the takeaway from the newest poll is that Latinos are pulling away from the rest of the nation.
"The 20 current percentage points gap in financial expectations (81% [positive] for Latinos and 61% for the general population) is the largest since the series began," notes the report.
There's a major caveat to this poll, however. The Pew poll was conducted in November of 2015, and since then the rise of the Donald has drastically shifted the political situation in this country. With Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee, and with the reality that he actually stands a chance to enter the presidency, these answers might be different if the polls were conducted today. After all, people across the world are nervous about the economic implications of a Trump presidency. Latinos in the U.S. likely fall in line with that anxiety.
And while the newest Pew poll doesn't contain demographic breakdowns about which parts of the general population are the most pessimistic, recent trends and the relative popularity of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders (yes, both) signal to us that the pessimism is largely driven by white anger and anxiety.
A separate Gallup poll from 2014 bears this out for us a little bit. That year, 57% of nonwhites said they had positive views on the nation's standing in the world, compared to a measly 33% for whites—a difference that was "wider than at any point in recent history," stated Gallup.
A CNN/ E Trade poll from earlier this year found that 56% of the general population feels like their children will be "worse off than them financially." Yet when Pew asked Latinos the same question in the newest poll, a whopping 72% reported that they expect their children to do better than them financially.
To a large swath of the population, the promise of American looks to be dead or at immediate risk of dying. But when it comes down to the definition of the American Dream—that future generations will have a better life than the current one—Latinos are true believers.
The American Dream, it seems, is increasingly the Latino-American Dream.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.