Polling data suggests that the shift of Hispanic voters toward Republican candidates between 2016 and 2020 increased in 2021. Continuation of the trend would produce a political earthquake in coming elections.
Drawing upon its recent polling, the Wall Street Journal noted this month: “Hispanic voters were also evenly divided when asked about a hypothetical rematch in 2024 of Trump and Biden, with 44% saying they would back President Biden and 43% supporting former President Donald Trump.”[i] This reflects a dramatic shift from just a year ago when Biden won 63% of the Hispanic vote, according to AP VoteCast, a large survey of the presidential electorate.[ii]
That 2020 Hispanic vote reflected an increase for Trump as compared to 2016. [iii] One in-depth study by Catalist found that Hispanic voters swung toward Trump by 8 points compared with 2016. Catalist compiles and analyzes voter data for Democratic candidates and progressive causes.
Equis Research, another Democratic-leaning group focusing on Latinos, released an analysis earlier this month based on polls and focus groups that concluded that the economy had become the top issue for Hispanics, replacing immigration.[iv] Equis noted swings toward Republicans of 20 points in parts of Florida’s Miami-Dade County, 12 points in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and double-digit swings in parts of the Northeast.[v]
Considering Equis’ left-leaning political orientation, their takeaways concerning the phenomena are illuminating:
- “The debate over whether to prioritize the economy or public health in the middle of COVID— a debate that became, for some, about the value of hard work and the American Dream— created a permission structure for formerly hesitant Latinos to embrace Trump’s candidacy.”
- “Trump’s policies on COVID and the economy were, in isolation, very popular— even among liberal Latinos.”
- “Trump himself was never well-liked among Latinos. But on the economy, he consistently earned some of his highest marks even before the COVID debate.
- “While Trump’s approach to border spending (not the wall) earned majority support among Latinos, he lost even the conservatives on family separation. But family separation was not front-and-center by the end of the election. Reopening the economy— one of Trump’s most popular planks with Latino voters— was.”[vi]
An extraordinarily dramatic gender divide is also contained in the recent Wall Street Journal poll. Hispanic Men favor Republicans for Congress 45% to 29%, while Hispanic Women are a complete reversal, with Democrats at 46% and Republicans at 29%. Anticipating a 2024 Trump-Biden rematch, Hispanic Men would support Trump by a 56 to 33% margin, while Hispanic Women prefer Biden by a 55 to 30% split.
None other than the co-author of the 2004 book The Emerging Democratic Majority[vii] has acknowledged the phenomena. Ruy Teixeira wrote earlier this month in the Liberal Patriot:
“The Democrats are steadily losing ground with Hispanic voters. The seriousness of this problem tends to be underestimated in Democratic circles for a couple of reasons: (1) they don’t realize how big the shift is; and (2) they don’t realize how thoroughly it undermines the most influential Democratic theory of the case for building their coalition.”[viii]
A week ago Los Angeles Times columnist Gustavo Arellano penned “Why Democrats should worry about more Latinos going for GOP in 2024” [ix] Arellano envisions the nightmare scenario (for him) of Trump choosing a Hispanic running mate: “From East Los Angeles to South Texas, Little Havana to Washington Heights, just enough inspired Latinos to become the swing vote that secures Trump’s win — maybe eventhe first time ever that a GOP presidential candidate wins a majority of the Latino electorate. The GOP thus finally fulfills the prophecy long attributed to Ronald Reagan that Latinos are Republicans who just don’t know it yet.”
[i] The Wall Street Journal Poll was conducted by the firms ALG Research and Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, who surveyed 1,500 respondents, drawn from a list of known, registered voters, from Nov. 16-22. Half the respondents were interviewed on their cell phones. One-quarter were reached by text on their cell phones and completed an internet survey. One-quarter of respondents were interviewed by landline phone. The margin of error for the full sample was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. https://www.wsj.com/articles/hispanic-voters-now-evenly-split-between-parties-wsj-poll-finds-11638972769
[iv] Equis Research Post-Mortem Part Two FINAL Dec 13 (squarespace.com)