June 27, 2022 - 7:00am

Hispanics are not happy with Joe Biden. According to a Quinnipiac poll last week asking if voters approve or disapprove of Biden’s handling of the Presidency, only a dismal 29% of Hispanics approve; disapproval is up to 53%. Biden’s cratering numbers aren’t surprising, since Hispanics have been shifting Rightward for the better part of two years now, but the 29% approval is shocking at first glance. Hispanics, a reliable Democratic voting bloc for decades, have turned their backs on Biden and the Democrats.

The truth is that the Hispanic-Democratic relationship was always a tenuous one. The fracturing dates back to the Trump Presidency. The progressive-led Democratic Party obsessed with woke cultural transformation has been diametrically opposed to the cultural pragmatism favoured by working-class Hispanics for some time now.

Hispanics, after all, lean socially conservative and respect traditional American values, which aligns the demographic with the Right-leaning white-working class. In the last decade or so, as Democrats transformed into a party catering to the whims of white-collar white women and their attendant cultural concerns, a Hispanic shift was all but guaranteed.

Trump instinctively understood the kinship between the white-working class and Hispanics, which is why he over-performed with Hispanics in 2016 and improved his numbers in 2020. Trump pushed America First policies — focusing on border security — and Hispanics, surprising many progressive experts, responded favourably. As Democrats countered with culturally transformative edicts focused on gender and race, Hispanics’ cultural pragmatism only strengthened. Poll after poll has shown that Hispanics, like the white working-class, care about jobs, law and order, and border security. To Hispanics, jobs and safety are of the utmost importance. Securing the border — to the shock of progressives who treat Hispanics from disparate countries as monolithic POC blob — is also very important.

Biden’s more recent collapse with Hispanics is attributable to the demographic’s distaste for transformative wokeness and the increasingly dire economic situation. Hispanics could deal with some wacky ideology if the economy was booming, but now that inflation is up and Biden seems ill-equipped to deal with an impending recession, there’s no reason to stick with him.

The tenuous relationship, built on a supposed pseudo-affinity between POC-appreciating Democrats and pragmatic Hispanics, was destined to break as soon as progressivism crossed over into the realm of total American transformation. The continual acceleration of wokeness in conjunction with a sputtering economy has broken the tenuous relationship altogether.

Unlike black Americans, seven in ten of whom support Biden, Hispanics were never bound to the Democratic Party due to the supposedly alienating whiteness of the Republican base. Democrats made the mistake of thinking that some imagined POC coalition, linking African Americans, Hispanics, and other “brown” people was always going to hold. As Ronald Reagan said, “Latinos are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” Trump reminded Hispanics of this possibility, and Biden’s culturally transformative agenda and a collapsing economy has made it so.

The symbol of the new Hispanic Republican is Mayra Flores, the first Mexican-born person elected to Congress. Flores, who won a special election two weeks ago in Texas’s 34th congressional district. She’s a Trump-styled Republican married to a border patrol agent; the seat she flipped was Democrat-controlled for over 150 years. Her rise is the pragmatic response to a Democratic Party that has lost touch with the concerns of Hispanics and doesn’t bode well for Biden’s re-election chances.

Alex Perez is a Cuban-American writer based in Miami, and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.