Donald Trump believed he could put a huge dent in the Democrats’ monopoly on the Hispanic vote in national elections. The president won about 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2016, which was the best performance by a Republican since George W. Bush won 44 percent of Latinos in 2004. It appears from exit polling that Trump may have come close to matching Bush’s Hispanic vote total, but at the very least, he performed much better with Hispanics than anyone thought he would.
In Florida and Texas, he made sizable inroads in the Latino vote, courting Cubans and Venezuelans in South Florida with his anti-socialism message while targeting Texas Hispanics with his “opportunity agenda.” It worked like a charm in both states.
Some of the numbers are astonishing.
Biden won the Hispanic vote by 19 points this year, according to the exits, but that’s down from Hillary Clinton’s 27-point margin in 2016. A number of heavily Hispanic counties in the Rio Grande Valley shifted toward Trump: Zapata County, to name one, broke for Trump by 5 points with most of the expected vote counted after Clinton won it by more than 30 points in 2016. The president’s share of the county’s vote jumped from 33 percent to 52 percent in his reelection bid.
In 2020, the Democrat also lost several counties — Val Verde, Jim Wells, Frio among them — that Barack Obama, Clinton and Beto O’Rourke had won in previous elections.
It’s amazing what a little voter outreach will accomplish. The rest of the GOP had written off Hispanics, but Donald Trump tailored a message that appealed to them and they rewarded him with their votes.
Around 55 percent of Florida’s Cuban-American vote went to Trump, according to NBC News exit polls, while 30 percent of Puerto Ricans and 48 percent of “other Latinos” backed Trump. Trump won the coveted battleground state with its 29 electoral votes.
Trump drastically improved his support in Miami-Dade County, going from 333,999 votes in 2016 to at least 529,16 votes this year. Biden, however, wasn’t able to grow Democratic support in the county. Clinton got 624,146 votes there in 2016 and with 95 percent of the vote tallied, Biden had 613,086.
There had been a lot of chatter before the election that Cuban-Americans were drifting away from Republicans. But Democrats underestimated the loathing that Cuban-Americans have for socialism. The same is true for Venezuelans.
Democrats tried to peddle socialism to people who had fled in terror from socialism. Not smart.
To show that the Hispanic vote is not monolithic, Joe Biden is, as of this writing, winning Arizona by winning Hispanics 2-1. The state looks to be going Democratic for the first time in 24 years and Hispanics provided much of Biden’s margin of victory. Here, the president’s immigration policies worked against him in the close-knit Hispanic community.
But regardless of the policies, Donald Trump has given the rest of the Republican Party a blueprint to follow in winning enough Hispanic votes to damage their Democratic opponents and boost their own campaigns. Trump didn’t have to compromise any principles to win this minority’s votes. All he did was make an effort to reach out.
Hispanics did the rest.