If you’ve noticed a bit of consternation among Democrats lately in regards to losing Latino voters, you aren’t alone. They’ve been broadcasting their worries for a while now, mostly in the form of doubling down on social justice issues that don’t actually move the very demographic they are seeking to preserve an advantage with.
But the real gut-punch happened last week after Pew Research Center released its “gold standard” data that seeks to accurately denote how different subgroups voted in the 2020 election. While the breakdowns include men/women, married/unmarried, college/no college, etc. it was the fact that Donald Trump took 38% of the Latino vote that has flop sweat building in Democrat circles.
Now, they are flailing in response.
“What we’re seeing right now is a cultural identity crisis that we are undergoing as a community that is completely splitting and dividing Latinos,” Paola Ramos says about Latinos’ decreasing support for Democrats. https://t.co/pAi0uvhhLA
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 5, 2021
Note the way this person, a former Hillary Clinton aide, tries to spin what’s happening. Instead of recognizing that people are individuals and that different subsets of Latinos might have different priorities, she tries to claim that Latinos are going through an “identity crisis.” This assumes that they are a monolith when they clearly aren’t. Latinos split heavily for and against things based on their country of origin, for example. There’s also the fact that they generally care more about the meat and potato issues vs. obsessing over social justice battles regarding the border. Your average voting Latino just isn’t animated by promising amnesty as much as Democrats like to think they are.
Yet, instead of changing course and recognizing that it is their own, radical politics that are driving Democrats away, those on the left seem to be going back to the same old divide and conquer playbook in hopes of turning things around. Note that the headling in the NBC News piece that I got the Pew data from leads with the fact that non-college-educated Latinos broke more for Trump than those with a college degree. That’s a not-so-subtle way of trying to paint those that chose to vote Republican as unintelligent.
Does anyone think that kind of strategy is going to work? I have my doubts. The more Democrats insult the intelligence of working-class Latinos for daring to vote Republican, the more they are going to end up in the GOP camp. The divisive identity politics that has been the go-to for Democrats in regards to the black vote just isn’t working with Latinos. That has them freaking out, not knowing what to do. They can’t change their policies or it’ll enrage their left-wing base. Yet, if they keep on the current path, the bleed of Latino voters is sure to continue. This is especially true in red states like Florida and Texas, where we’ve seen massive shifts happen.
Ironically, the one thing Republicans could do to screw all this up is to start pandering and following the George W. Bush model of Latino outreach that has so plagued the GOP establishment for decades. Voting Latinos do not want to be infantilized. They want to be treated like individuals who can think for themselves and see past the identity boxes Democrats try to place them in.
If Republicans remember that and continue to focus on the issues that matter to all Americans, including Latinos, they’ll keep building on the gains Trump ushered in.