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What's Driving Latinos to the GOP?

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he was branded as a racist by the left for his plan to build a wall at our southern border. As a result, despite winning the election, Hillary Clinton won Latinos 66% to Trump’s 28%. Trump proceeded to build the wall and get tough on immigration, but despite that, in 2020, Trump got 38% of the Hispanic vote—a stunning improvement compared to four years prior and the best showing of a GOP candidate since George W. Bush in 2004.

The Hispanic swing towards the GOP is very real and by no means a Trump fluke. According to the Associated Press, Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin won the Latino vote by 12 points, 55%-43%. Though that number is disputed because an exit poll showed McAuliffe won Latinos by 34 points. But nevertheless, pollsters noticed that the GOP is picking up more Hispanic votes, which could doom the Democratic Party in 2022 and 2024.

“I believe that Biden turned me into a Republican,” Hispanic voter Juan Pérez told Telemundo News after the Virginia election. “Biden is destroying the economy. Inflation is through the roof and everything is terrible.”

It’s undeniable that Republicans are making gains with Latino voters. Left-wing Vox noted this spring that “data shows that many Latino voters, who represent the fastest-growing share of the electorate, are not firmly part of the Democratic base.”

Biden’s failures as president certainly aren’t helping the Democratic Party hold on the Latino vote.

So, what’s causing the exodus?

“They are rejecting woke progressivism,” GOP operative Daniel Garza told the Washington Examiner earlier this year.

It’s easy to see that being the case. The woke left are pretty much the only people who insist on using the term “Latinx” instead of Latino or Hispanic, even though the community doesn’t even use “Latinx” to describe itself.  But, ultimately, it seems to be more of a rejection of the left’s identity politics and Latino voters realizing that the Democratic Party isn’t looking out for their interests.

“I can tell you from my research that what we have been seeing is a real message for the Democrats, who are not getting behind issues that really speak to Latinos,” Pollster Eduardo Gamarra told Politico earlier this month. “It’s a reason we’re seeing the shift.”

Democrats have long counted on minority groups to be monolithic and reliable Democratic voters. Latinos are swinging more to the GOP, and black voters may be as well. Trump won more of the black vote in 2020 than in 2016—despite Biden sharing a ticket with a minority running mate. Perhaps the message here is that Democrats have taken the minority vote for granted long enough, and years of supporting Democrats and getting nothing out of it is causing the shift.

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