Hispanic and Latino voters, especially among the working class, are gradually shifting their support to Republicans after once being a heavily Democratic constituency, according to several surveys analyzed by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
In the 2020 presidential election, for instance, 63% of Latinos supported then-candidate Joe Biden, an eight percent decline from the support for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the WSJ’s report.
The shift was greatest among Latino voters without a college degree, commonly termed “working-class.” Biden received 11% fewer votes among them in 2020 than did Hillary in 2016.
Political experts ascribe this shift to the changing postures of both parties. Since 2016, the Democratic Party has embraced more left-wing policy positions – i.e., large social spending programs, support for race-based curricula, and loosening border regulations.
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For many Latino voters – who have an average household income of $55,321 per the Peterson Institute and are largely Catholics or Jehovah’s Witnesses, per Pew Research – these are incompatible with their views.
“The Republican Party is the one that represents that strongly, and that’s who we are going to be sticking with if the Democratic Party continues to impose their progressive agenda,” said Ally Magalhaes, a Brazilian-born doctor, and mother who lives in Las Vegas, to the WSJ.
Nevada, with a Latino population of 18.7%, is observing the consequences; despite having voted for Democratic presidential candidates since 2008, its Senate election in November is considered a “tossup” by the Cook Political Report.
Polls show Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, a white man, defeating Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina ever elected to represent the state.
Other regions where Latino voting shifts have changed electoral fortunes are Florida and Texas, where Cuban-American and Hispanic Texan voters respectively have become reliable Republican voters.
In 2020, Republican voter registration overtook Democrats among Cubanos for the first time, the difference being 20%. Though the group had trended Republican for years, they voted decisively for Trump over Biden in that year’s election, 62% to 36%, per data gathered by Bendixen & Amadi, a polling firm.
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Conservative elections experts cite the Democratic Party’s embrace of “socialism” as the primary reason, as well as the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba, whose Castro-led communist regime many of them fled. The charge that Democrats are socialists “is an attack that has largely gone uncontested over the last several years,” said Stephanie Valencia, the founder of Equis Labs, which works closely with the Democratic Party, to ABC News.
Tejanos, meanwhile, are employed heavily in Texas’ oil and gas industry, which has become a flashpoint in Democratic attempts to reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, the group’s dominant Catholic identity and gun ownership, according to Politico, place them at odds with Democratic messaging that supports abortion and opposes gun rights.
Chuck Rocha, an organizer for Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, expressed the contrast in worldview to Politico.
“The Tejanos in the Rio Grande Valley who wear a cowboy hat and belt buckle and drive their pickup trucks aren’t the same as the ‘woke Latinos’ in Dallas,” he said.
Tejanos’ political power was observed in 2022 when Mayra Flores, a Mexican immigrant, won a special election to Congress from Texas’ 34th Congressional District, which had been represented by Democrats since its creation.
The district covered Tejano-populated towns of Brownsville and San Benito, which Flores won by large margins, per data from the Texas Secretary of State.
Looking at these trends, experts point to a broader re-alignment of political coalitions, with the Democratic Party unable to rely on high Latino support akin to the 71% who voted for President Barack Obama in 2012.
“They’re voting on economic issues and on the cultural drift of the Democratic Party,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican political strategist in California, to the WSJ.
Another consultant, Patrick Ruffini, put it bluntly: “Today, it’s mostly just white progressives against everyone else.”