Republicans don’t win Latino voters, Democrats lose them

Democrats, you have a problem

And that’s not an inherent flaw in Latino voters. The problem is you.

You are not chasing us because you are too “awake”. You’re chasing us because you’ve fallen asleep at the switch when it comes to reaching out to us. You no longer ask for our votes because you assume you have them. You’re too busy chasing after white suburban footballers by talking harshly about immigration and criticizing the same lenient policies that produce the immigrant housekeepers and nannies that keep these suburban households afloat. This was always going to be a recipe for bleeding votes, and now the bleeding is out of control.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, Latinos are now almost evenly split between the two main political parties.

When asked which party they would support in a congressional race if elections were held today, 37% of Latino voters said they would support the Republican candidate and 37% said they would favor the Democrat. A significant amount – 22% – was undecided. When asked who they would support in a hypothetical 2024 rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, 44% said they would favor Biden while 43% said they would support Trump.

Although the poll had a small sample size, it’s hard to find a Democratic pollster or expert who isn’t at least a little concerned that the red wave that is expected to sweep through Democrats in the election of mid-term of 2022 will include many Latino voters. . To compound the concern, many Latinos live in battlefield states – Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Nevada, etc. – where elections tend to be close.

“Latinos are increasingly becoming swing voters… It’s a swing vote that we’re going to have to fight for,” Democratic pollster John Anzalone told the Journal. His company conducted the poll with one led by Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio.

A word of warning: the more you hear or read about Latinos becoming Republicans, the more likely you are to be confused. All the analyzes that I have encountered in recent weeks from journalists, pollsters, experts or political observers were false. And, most of the explanations of non-Latinos (i.e. whites) have been spectacularly wrong.

Too many people oversimplify the complicated and complicate the simple.

It is not, as some Democrats suggest, that “macho” Latino men gravitate towards the GOP because they see the party as more masculine and more friendly to dominant men. It’s also a little too easy for Republicans to argue that Latinos are complete GOP converts on the two issues that resonate most with us – the economy and education.

While many of us like the Republicans’ pro-business stance, we also see a role for robust government spending in areas such as education, health care, and social security. And just because we believe in meeting academic standards doesn’t mean we opt for vouchers for private schools.

And there is no such thing as a solid Latino voting block. About 60% of the 62 million Latinos in the United States are Mexican or Mexican-American. These are the real swing voters. The remaining 40% are made up of Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and Guatemalans who generally vote Democrats. But you’ll also find Cubans, Salvadorians, and Colombians who tend to vote Republicans.

There are also major geographic differences, depending on the state Latinos inhabit. Those in blue states like California, New York, New Jersey or New Mexico are more likely to vote Democratic. Those who live in red states like Utah, Texas, or Florida are more likely to vote Republican. And those in “purple” states – or even states recently ruled by one party but now ruled by another – like Nevada, Arizona or Virginia are up for grabs.

Another thing that is not true is this idea that Latinos are suddenly to become republicans. It is more accurate to say that we have always been at least partially Republicans – with conservative views on economic and social issues. Former President Ronald Reagan used to say that Latinos were wired to be Republicans, “they just don’t know that.”

Of course, Latinos outscore Democrat over Republican by a 2-1 margin, and we’ve been voting for Democratic candidates for generations. But it should be noted that we have almost always supported conservative Democrats, while also showing a willingness to cross party lines and support pro-immigrant Republicans – especially at the local level.

“Republicans have a secret weapon when wooing Latino voters. This is called the Democrats.“

It is true that in 15 presidential elections since 1960, the Democratic candidate has won the majority of Latino votes. It’s also true that some Democrats groped and gave up much of that vote.

Think of Walter Mondale in 1984, who lost 40% of the Latin American vote to President Ronald Reagan. Or John Kerry who, in 2004, ceded 44% to President George W. Bush.

An analysis this year by the Pew Research Center found that Biden beat Trump with Latino voters by 21 points, 59% to 38%. But just four years earlier, Hillary Clinton had limited Trump to just 28% of the Latin American vote while winning 66%. Trump improved his performance with Latinos by 10 percentage points from 2016 to 2020, helped by the fact that Biden is out of touch with that Democratic constituency.

So what is really going on with the Latin vote?

Let’s start with the obvious. Republicans have a secret weapon when wooing Latino voters. This is called the Democrats.

This phenomenon – of a political party benefiting from the idiocy and missteps of the opposition – is not new. In politics, a big part of winning is attracting the right opponent.

Yet with Latino voters, this repulsion mechanism worked backwards.

Over the past 30 years, as more and more immigrants from Mexico and Central America came to the United States – due to the insatiable appetite of American employers for immigrant labor and imbalances trade exacerbated by the North American Free Trade Agreement – dumb Republicans have become completely nativists. . Instead of attacking the immigration system as unfair or dysfunctional, they criticized immigrants as inferior or dangerous.

Democrats were the beneficiaries, and they got used to getting Latin votes on the cheap. Over time, these easy victories engendered not only complacency, but neglect as well.

Republicans still aren’t doing much to reach out to Latinos, who now represent about one in eight registered voters in the United States. Nativism is a hard habit to break down, especially when so many white voters who make up the core of the GOP remain addicted to it and demand that Republicans blow the whistle on the immigration issue.

But the Democrats can always be counted on to do something wrong.

Terry McAuliffe obliged. The outgoing governor of Virginia – who didn’t do much on behalf of Latinos during his tenure – delivered at least one cringe-worthy moment during the state’s recent governors campaign when he told the Latino volunteers to go ahead and multiply. McAuliffe urged young people to “keep busy,” suggesting they procreate to increase their demographic and political strength in the Old Dominion.

“10.5% of the population is very large,” McAuliffe told the group, referring to the size of Virginia’s Latin American population. “Now let me give you a tip: get busy, hit 11% relatively quickly. “

McAuliffe has always won the Latino vote in Virginia, but his race-winning opponent Glenn Youngkin appears to have garnered more Latino support than many political observers had predicted.

For a Republican, anything north of 30% is a good performance that puts his Democratic opponent on the defensive. According to Edison Research, Youngkin reached 32%.

Whenever they lose ground with voters, political parties always offer explanations that suit them. Republicans say Democrats are scaring Latinos with a “latinx” revival that only plays with cultural elites, and GOP messages on education and jobs are paying off. Democrats retort that defections are limited to “macho” Latino men who now gravitate towards a party perceived as more masculine.

Neither political party “gets” Latino voters. And both must listen. Latinos aren’t going all-in for a political ideology.

We are a very diverse group of voters, and many of us are going to remain cafeteria voters who choose based on what looks good on any given election day. We are in play because we cannot be put in a box.

And we pay attention to who is paying attention to us.

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