I am trying to keep this website updated with all the writing I have gotten around as I’ve been pretty lax in updating people.
Naturally tomorrow we are once again told that this election is the “most important in your lifetime” (I guess in a way that every summer will now be the warmest you’ll ever remember until next year).
People have spent a decent amount of time hyping up and wondering where the “Latino vote” will go in 2022. There’s an obvious reason for this, Hispanic and Latino Americans have grown into a very influential demographic. By 2020, they’ve grown into 13% of all who are eligible to vote and 11% of those who have voted. These numbers are even starker when it comes those under the age of 20 (now 19% of voters). Additionally while Latino turnout had been muted in the past, now 54% of Latino voters turn out as of 2020.
In particular interest to politics watchers is the possible shift of Latinos into the GOP. This has been predicted repeatedly for quite some time dating back to Reagan’s quip “Hispanics are Republicans, they just don’t know it yet.” While Romney’s dismal performance in 2012 and the nomination of Trump seemed to pose an existential threat for the GOP’s chances, bizarrely enough Trump actually improved on the GOP’s (admittedly low) numbers. While the Democratic Party has a roughly 20 point lead right now, that’s a fairly substantial decrease from previous administrations.
This begs the questions, “Is trend a real phenomenon or just GOP wishcasting? and, “Why would Latinos start voting for the GOP now in the era of Trump as opposed to Bush and McCain?”
I had a chance to discuss this with a former colleague Tim Milosch, who runs the podcast Tim Talks Politics.
Ultimately I don’t think this trend is ephemeral. While I think the Democrats will lead with Latino voters for the forseeable future, I think the GOP will make serious gains during this election cycle for a few reasons:
- The news just simply isn’t good. While the sources I cited earlier shows Latinos are slightly more likely than the average voter to feel positively about the direction of our country, 66% of Latino voters polled feel that we are headed in the wrong direction. Whether it’s the economy or crime, the news cycle is not looking great. The GOP is going to gain from this by simply being the opposition. Additionally these are the issues that Latinos consistently rank highest (interestingly some polls combine gun violence/crime. and I feel this throws off the polling, making it seem more positive for Democrats) in priority. Do they like that the GOP is, for all intents and purposes, the party of January 6th? No, not really. Do they care a lot right now? Also, no.
- There are big demographic shifts. While big demographic shifts take time to hit the polls (ex. people tend to make a big deal of California being a minority-majority state, in reality whites make up 55% of actual voters), these trends have been ongoing since the 1990s. The biggest predictors for a GOP vote among Latinos are; being born in the United States, being middle class, and being evangelical. Since 2012 most Hispanics in the United States are actually born in the US for the first time in several decades (immigration in general has slowed to a trickle since the Great Recession). Secondly, the growth of the Latino middle class has continued albeit with some major hangups (Blacks and Latinos are far less likely to have recovered financially from the various recessions since 2008). Lastly, the growth of Latino evangelicalism has continued and may grow to 50% by 2030. This won’t translate to a scenario where Ron DeSantis wins 50.1% of the Latino vote in 2024 as these shifts aren’t uniform to all Hispanic Americans (itself made up of several different nationalities and generations), but it will change how we see this demographic.
- Progressives ideologically outkicked their coverage with Hispanics. This is not to say that Hispanics are natural conservatives any more than the white working class who ended up being Clinton voters, Obama voters and then Trump voters. However from research from folks like Ruy Teixeira, its clear that the progressive activist class that seems to set the ideological tone of the wider Democratic Party on issues like abortion, race, trans issues, criminal justice, and immigration is at odds with the average independent or Democratic voter. For instance if asked if racism is systemic or individual, while progressives overwhelmingly feel that it is systemic, Hispanics will say otherwise. If asked if America is not the greatest country or the greatest country, while 66% of strong progressives would say America is not great, 70% of Hispanics say it is the greatest country on earth.
This is why the “Latinx issue” was such a big deal. It’s not at all the cause of Latinos leaving the Democratic fold but it is symptomatic of this wider disconnect. Last year I had a chance to write on this at the National Review. There’s a reason why Latinos don’t use the term at all, despite it being adopted almost overnight across academia, media, politics, and similarly progressive spaces. It’s indicative of a deracinated, top-down, largely Anglo-American run progressive project that obsesses with pet issues that most Latinos simply don’t think much of.
If I had to put my money where my mouth is, I’d say the midterms will see modest gains for the GOP among Latino voters, even Mexican Americans. If I wanted to get specific, I’d say Democrats previous 40% advantage back in 2012 will be worn down to about under 20%.
If you wanted some good sources on this I can recommend the following: