by Eric Kaufmann
Thursday, 9
December 2021
Analysis
11:30

Hispanic Americans are no longer ‘minority voters’

We are witnessing a generational shift in voting patterns among Latino voters
by Eric Kaufmann
Trump made significant gains among Hispanics in both 2016 and 2020

Are Hispanic Americans assimilating into the white mainstream and voting accordingly? A new poll from the Wall Street Journal shows that Hispanics in the sample now divide their vote evenly between the two main parties. This comes on the heels of a gubernatorial exit poll showing Republican Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin defeating his Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe 55-45% among Hispanics.

Latinos are generally difficult to poll because they are a minority and contain a higher-than-average share of nonvoters and non-English speakers. Hispanic surveys like those of the WSJ are often based on small samples and can generate inconsistent results. Nevertheless, all but the most stubborn analysts acknowledge that Trump made significant gains among Hispanics in both 2016 and 2020.

Latinos, the largest and fastest-growing minority in America, were once viewed as the Democrats’ one-way ticket to perpetual victory. Academic papers established that the rapid growth of Hispanics in California helped tip a once-reliably Republican state to the Democrats. At around the same time, a seminal book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, by John Judis and Ruy Texeira implied that all the Democrats had to do was ride a wave of minority growth to the White House — though both authors rejected this idea as a strategy to pursue. The orthodoxy that demography is destiny subsequently became an article of faith on the Left, reinforcing a self-righteous belief that they were on the right side of history and Republicans were a set of white male dinosaurs on their way out.

On the Right, the establishment wing of the Republican Party — business, religious, and military conservatives — endorsed Democratic orthodoxy, urging the party to downplay the immigration issue for fear of upsetting the rising Hispanic vote. In 2013, this wing, symbolised by the Republican National Committee (RNC)’s ‘autopsy’ report on Romney’s 2012 loss, pushed the party to embrace amnesty for illegal immigrants and ‘inclusion.’

Trump defied the autopsy to win in 2016. Not only that, his share of the Hispanic vote rose several points over that Romney’s in 2012. In 2020, Trump’s share rose again, by as much as 8 points. The heavily white ‘Progressive Activists’ who make up just 8% of the population but dominate on social media and in Democratic politics was aghast at Trump’s rhetoric on immigration. They blithely assumed their worldview captured the outlook of marginalised groups like Hispanics whom they claimed to represent.

In reality, Trump’s messaging was received more positively by minorities. By contrast, liberal attempts to forge a ‘rainbow coalition’ of the marginalised fell flat with aspirational Hispanics, Asians and many Blacks. As Democratic data strategist David Shor relates, ‘In the summer, following the emergence of “defund the police” as a nationally salient issue, support for Biden among Hispanic voters declined.’ In addition, Biden’s use of the woke label ‘Latinx’ alienates many Hispanics: a new poll finds that just 2% identify with the phrase, while 40% say it offends them.

Hispanics appear to be transitioning from an insecure new group to a more assertive part of the mainstream. In so doing, their trajectory is looking more like that of aspirational and upwardly-mobile ‘white ethnics’ like Italian-Americans and less like that of African-Americans, who have historically been more receptive to Democrats’ framing of them as a marginalised group in need of protection.

Consider that figure 1, based on 2018 Pew data, shows a steady shift across generations of Hispanic-origin Americans, away from the Democrats and toward the Republicans. Political scientists Álvaro Corral and David Leal find that third generation Latinos were significantly more likely than the newly arrived to vote for Trump in 2016.

This arguably undercounts the change since Hispanics of part non-Hispanic white background who vote Republican are more likely to identify as white on a survey rather than Hispanic.

The trajectory of Hispanic and Asian voters looks a lot like that of white Catholic voters after 1960. Between 1850 and 1960, about 7 in 10 white Catholics voted Democratic. But the election of John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, on the back of almost 9 in 10 Catholic votes, proved the beginning of the end of this love affair. As figure 2 shows, the share of white Catholics identifying as Democratic in the gold-standard American National Election Study (ANES) fell steadily, from 73% in 1960 to 38% in 2016. These were the relatively blue-collar ‘Reagan Democrats’ who shifted Right each election by a few points.

Now consider the minority vote in figure 3. In 2008, the US experienced another JFK moment when Obama became the first nonwhite president. As with Kennedy’s victory, there was a surge of enthusiasm from his ethnic category, with 75% of nonwhites identifying as Democrats that year.

However, by 2019, the last year available in the ANES, just 50% of nonwhites identified as Democrats. Minorities have been transitioning from Democratic party identification to being Independent. However, if the historic white Catholic pattern is a guide, this could be a prelude to growing Republican party identification — and thus election success — among minorities.

Not only are the Republicans gaining ground among Latinos, but they are doing so in the face of everything the 2013 autopsy recommended. Increasingly, surveys are finding that Hispanics reject woke slogans like ‘defund the police’, ‘abolish ICE’ or ‘Latinx’. Many welcome Trump’s tough stance on the border and have a negative view of Biden’s performance on immigration. Indeed, many Hispanic Trump voters seem more than comfortable with national populist views, and differ little in this regard from white Trump voters, as figure 4 shows.

All told, the mainstreaming of Hispanics in America has allowed a new brand of national populist Republicanism to defy the orthodoxy of the RNC’s 2013 autopsy, providing a new lease on life for Trump. It should also serve as a wake-up call for Democrats, who are facing heavy electoral losses in 2022 and potentially 2024.

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Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
9 months ago

More proof (as if it were needed) that the modern Left are the Racist Whitesplainers of our time.
Hispanics need not worry – they will no doubt be upgraded in due course to Honorary Whites (as with Indo-Chinese Asians), in order that white woke liberals can preserve the purity of their BAME victimhood concept.

Earl King
Earl King
9 months ago

Hispanics are nothing like African Americans. Democrats have always been the party of immigrants. Italian Americans, Irish Americans have always had an affinity for Democrats. The assumption is that Hispanics would follow. A great many have, but not the extent that like African Americans who are a 90% reliable Democrat vote. Hispanics emigrate here for our economic security. For the freedoms to build your own economic success. They start businesses they work very hard.
They freely enter the US diaspora and integrate well. A second or third generation son or daughter of immigrants often want to protect what economic success they have achieved. In that respect the Democratic Socialists ideas and language are actually driving away Hispanics. Naturally a conservative culture…..they are just as repulsed by white liberal fragility, anti racist, BLM, Antifa behavior.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
9 months ago

Immigrants are generally moving to improve their chances in life.
Allowing themselves to become a captive vote seems contrary to that goal.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
9 months ago

I was delighted but nearly fell on the floor when my Ecuadorian house cleaner told me she was voting for Trump / Republican. Supposedly, her friends gave her grief for that move but I suspect she also planted a seed in their head that it’s okay to leave the Democrat-Dependency-Plantation and really become a free thinking, uncensored and freedom-loving citizen.

David McDowell
David McDowell
9 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

How on earth does your Ecuadorian cleaner get to vote for the US President?

William Hickey
William Hickey
9 months ago

Missing from the discussion is the factor of the Trump personality on the Hispanic vote. It may not be Trump’s issues that drove the increase in 2016 and 2020 as much as Trump the man.

Trump is a character out of a telenovela, the typical padrone of Spanish culture. Brash, boastful, domineering, with wealth he flaunts and a beautiful, smiling and silent wife by his side, he is an archetypal figure of immense personal appeal to Hispanics. Men want to be like him, women want to be near him.

Anyone who addresses the increased vote for GOP president from 2012 to 2020 without taking those qualities into account is being deliberately obtuse. Try to imagine Mitt Romney at a Mixed Martial Arts championship fight — C’mon, man!

Virginia is the strongest indicator so far of a true shift, if the GOP poll is accurate.

However, Hispanics are a plurality of voters in California and New Mexico. Until I start to see election results for the state legislatures and congressional districts in those states and others reflect this outlier poll and optimistic article, I’m going to remain skeptical of the long-forecasted conservative Hispanics.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
9 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

Not quite sure of the macho idea really being a motivating factor. Trump stressed jobs, not give aways. Trump noted that jobs lost to immigrants was ruining the ability of many to get ahead as their jobs got taken by a person who would work for less, no questions asked bosses. The Republican party fails to take advantage of family values, education and jobs approach to minorities. Changes in tax policy don’t matter but jobs do. NM and CA are remarkably strange places for Republicans who seem unable to build a message that end heritage vote patterns. Maybe them can improve but have largely given up.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago

I object to much of this article, especially adopting the language of the woke. What is an Hispanic? What is a minority? Are you still a minority if no one group makes up a majority? The word “Hispanic” is a word made up out of thin air by the federal government (evil personified), for a census some decades ago. Latinx is similar, though it was made up by the woke (also evil personified) more recently. “Minorities” is another term that is increasingly irrelevant–though still widely used–for woke reasons. What’s wrong with just being American?
To combat this Orwellian usage, I’ve invented a term that I would like see widely used instead of “people of color, or “poc” (is it racist that I didn’t capitalize it?). My preferred term is COW, “Citizen of Wakanda.” All so-called minorities and “poc” can be COWs, but there are graduations of citizenship. It’s obvious that those with the darkest skin are first class citizens, blacks with lighter skin can be second class citizens, brown people third class, and Asians maybe fourth class citizens, (because they are “white adjacent,” [whatever that means], and use “white supremacist thinking” to get ahead. So they can be the equivalent of BNOs–the British gradiation of citizenship.
And what is the point of tracing the supposed political evolution of white Catholics? There is such a huge schism in the American Catholic Church, which employs, in theory, an extreme social justice dogma similar to communism that has much in common with the Jewish tradition of social justice wokeness. “Is the pope Catholic?” is now a serious question in America and around the world. The King of the paedos goes to Cyrpus and hugs the invaders, while American Catholics see the Southern border–I mean Southern region–there is no border, being overrun by invading hordes and say “Enough Already!” Maybe the King of the Paedos is not so infallible after all!
In summary, let’s stop slicing and dicing what is an American. The alternative is the former Yugoslavia and current Lebanon, which did exactly that. How did that end for those countries?

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
9 months ago

Latinos are not one group but an assortment of groups, who often feel that they have little in common except speaking Spanish to varying degrees of ability and being treated as outsiders by Anglos and African-Americans. Those who have fled socialism are more likely to vote Republican than those who have not.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
9 months ago

The main opponents of the Democrat ‘rainbow coalition’ are African-Americans who reject the implication that they are immigrants.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
9 months ago

Figure 2 shows that white Catholics are becoming more Republican. Figure 3 shows that Hispanic (Catholics?) are becoming less Democrat and more Independent, whatever that means.
Terrible article. Lots of graphs which don’t mean much. How many white Catholics are there? Are the Hispanics mainly Catholics? What does Independent mean in US politics?

Amos Farrell
Amos Farrell
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

When you register to vote in the US you are given the choice to register as a member of a party. This is usually Democrat or Republican but there are many others, all tiny. (Ironically, one is the Independent party, which like all others, will prevent you from being counted as Independent.) Libertarian is the biggest which has maybe 1% of registered voters. If you chose not to register as a member of a party you are “unaffiliated” which is counted as “Independent” in polls. Here in America, we like to keep things simple.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

You raise an interesting point and I don’t have all the answers, but consider this. If once upon a time–50 years ago? 60?– 45% of the American electorate were Democrats and 45% Republicans, it made sense to talk about the 2 party system, “both sides of the aisle.
BUT at some point things shifted and now the shift is enormous. I’m making up the figures but you’ll get the idea. Suppose in 1980 40% were Ds, 40% Rs–that leaves 20% other. Maybe in 2000 its as 30-30, and now maybe it is 20-20, which means that 60% of the American electorate is not affiliated with a “major” party, yet the discussion, in the MSM and in general, continually circles back to the 2 party system, both sides of the aisle. It’s becoming increasingly irrelevant.
American voters are essentially forced to choose a party if they want to “make a difference,” in that primaries usually determine the elections–in some cases, such as NYC it’s close to 100%–so voters who are not registered as Ds or Rs don’t get a say. This is a crazy system that no longer works, if it ever did.
I’m a independent voter–though my vote from abroad didn’t count–that’s another story. I hate the Ds and I hate the Rs only slightly less, because the Rs don’t hate straight white men.

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Back in the day many Catholic American voted democrat and democrats opposed easier abortion. The Republicans just regarded it as a personal family issue for women and their doctor and no business of the state. Then the big switcheroo and Democrats became particularly in favour of abortion access and became somewhat less appealing to many Catholics tho voting habits die hard.
Any discussion of race or religion in relation to the Democrats has to take into account the pre and post civil rights Democratic party. Pre it was dominated by Southern segregationists and socially conservative ethnic voters and labour unions. After, not so much. An attempt by so called Dixiecrats to keep a Democratic foot in the segregationist camp was pretty short lived. But the Dixiecrat approach was an important pre-civil rights strand of the Democratic Party.
Many blacks particularly in the South and if they had the vote regarded the Republican Party as their natural allies. Lincoln was a Republican and it was the Democratic Party that defended slavery and was responsible for segregation and Jim Crow laws.