Democrats have long assumed the Hispanic community will continue to vote in lockstep with them, as they have done historically. However, recent electoral results in California and Texas show many of these voters are shifting away from the Democratic Party as it lurches left and are aligning themselves with Republicans.
Although California Governor Gavin Newsom avoided recall this summer, he lost ground with the Hispanic community. Fifty-eight percent of Hispanics rejected the recall according to exit polls, which is a sound majority. Still, it was six percentage points less than Mr. Newsom’s 2018 numbers with Hispanics. In Imperial County, which sits on the southeast corner of the state on the Mexican border and where more than 80% of its residents are Hispanic, 40% voted to recall the governor. In 2020, former President Donald J. Trump won 36.7% of Imperial County’s vote, besting his numbers in 2016, where he won 26.6% of the vote.
In Texas last year, Mr. Trump improved on his 2016 presidential results by more than 23 points in the border towns of McAllen and Laredo, which are predominately Hispanic. In the cities, such as San Antonio’s Prospect Hill, which also has a majority of Hispanic residents, Mr. Trump experienced double-digit shifts toward his reelection effort, although he ultimately lost. This year, McAllen, which is 85% Hispanic, elected a Republican mayor for the first time in 24 years.
So what explains the shift? McAllen’s newly elected Mayor Javier Villalobos’ told Axios, “South Texas is very conservative, and Hispanics here have always voted Democratic because of our parents and grandparents out of tradition. Hopefully, they are opening up their eyes. Competition is good.”
As Texas Monthly detailed last month: “for decades, the dominant ideologies in South Texas have been the same as in other rural areas and small towns across the state—that is, conservative. Many Democrats in South Texas are ardent supporters of gun rights who spend fall and winter weekends hunting white-tailed deer. On Sundays, churches—mostly Catholic but also evangelical—swell to the brim. In hotels, mud-caked boots line the hallways at night as oil workers travel from job to job. As nine-term U.S. congressman Henry Cuellar, a Democrat whose district stretches from the banks of the Rio Grande all the way to San Antonio, told me, ‘Aside from our Mexican heritage, much of South Texas has … demographic similarities with some of the more conservative strongholds and white rural communities in the state.’”
And Democrats, for better or worse, have shifted too far left. Their assault on the oil and gas industry threatens livelihoods. Their calls for gun confiscation snarls weekend recreation. Their radical push for abortion on demand is an affront to faith. Their push to defund the police is an insult to those working in the profession, including Customs Border Protection, and a slight to communities that value safety. Their “woke” terminology of “Latinx” and dividing the country based on identity politics undermines the commonality and pride of being an American.
Republicans are making strides with Hispanics because they’re focusing on the issues – the policies the community values, not what the affluent coastal elites demand. As President Joe Biden panders to his party’s progressive base, more opportunity will come for the GOP to pick up ground with the Hispanic constituency.
Nationally, Democrats need more than 60% of the Hispanic electorate to win. In 2020, Mr. Trump won 38% of the Hispanic vote, a 10% increase from 2016.
Currently, Mr. Biden’s approval rating among Hispanics has slipped to close or beneath 50%. According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, he only has a 36% approval rating among Texas Hispanics, with a mere 26% approval on the border.
If Republicans can persuade “conservative” Hispanic voters to shift to their side on the issues, the next presidential election could be a blow-out and the 2022 midterms the next red wave.