Hispanic voters are rapidly reassessing their relationship with the Democratic Party, creating a problem for Democrats that in some ways reflects their struggle to retain working-class voters.
A Quinnipiac poll released last week found Hispanic voters disapprove of President Joe Biden‘s job performance more than any other racial group, with just 12% of Hispanics saying they “strongly approve” of how he handles office.
This followed a series of surveys showing that Latino voters have soured over the past year on both Biden in particular and Democrats in general: In December last year, less than one year into Biden’s presidency, a the wall street journal polling found that Hispanic voters were evenly split on whether they would vote for a Republican or a Democrat in the next election.
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Democrats have also bled support from less-educated working-class voters in recent cycles, as far-left liberals have shifted the party’s attention toward polarizing social and cultural issues and away from the table issues of cuisine that, in the context of inflation and economic uncertainty, have eclipsed virtually everything that Democratic voters typically favor.
“I think the biggest reason is inflation,” said Brad Bannon, a Democratic strategist. Washington Examiner when asked why Latino voters are moving to the right. “Hispanic Americans are unhappy because their incomes are not keeping up with inflation.”
He added, “Hispanic Americans have the same economic concerns as other Americans, and that’s a big deal.”
the the wall street journal A December poll found that while Hispanic voters were split on which party they would support if an election were held today, with a significant number undecided, a majority saw Republicans in Congress as more capable of fighting inflation and securing the border.
Ruy Teixeira, Democratic analyst and author of The Emerging Democratic Majoritya book that predicted that Democrats would one day enjoy sustainable majorities due to the increase in the number of nonwhite voters as a share of the population, attributed some of the Democrats’ struggles with Hispanics to the party’s refusal to stand focus on their working class concerns.
“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Democrats got it seriously wrong in lumping Hispanics together with ‘people of color’ and assuming they’ve embraced the activism around race issues that has so dominated the political scene in 2020, especially in the summer,” Teixeira wrote in December.
“It was a wrong assumption,” Teixeira added. “The reality for the Hispanic population is that they are, broadly speaking, a predominantly working-class, economically progressive and socially moderate constituency that cares about jobs, the economy and health care first and foremost.”
Former President Donald Trump presided over a shift of Hispanics away from the Democratic Party during his four years in office, while bolstering his image as a champion among less-educated, low-income voters.
In heavily Hispanic neighborhoods in Chicago, for example, Trump drew 45% more Latino votes in 2020 than in 2016, according to a New York Times analysis of data at the constituency level.
Overall, Hispanic voters swung to Trump by 8 points between the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, according to Democratic data firm Catalist.
Less educated voters increasingly leaned toward Republicans, regardless of race.
A Gallup poll last month found Biden had lost the most support since taking office among voters who had never attended college and lost the least support among voters who had earned ninth-grade degrees. cycle.
The same poll found even bigger drops in support among Hispanic voters, with Biden’s approval rating dropping 21% from January 2021 to March 2022.
Grant Reeher, professor of political science at Syracuse University, said the Democratic Party’s decision to channel much of its energy into liberal social issues and less energy into priority economic issues for the working class could encourage some Hispanic voters to consider voting Republican next time.
“I think a lot of the energy in the Democratic Party of late, philosophically, has been driven by a certain type of progressivism that can come across as moralizing and elitist, and certainly some of the most prominent face spokespeople for that can come out that way,” Reeher told the Washington Examiner.
“And some of that, I think, may not resonate very well with some Hispanics because of how it kind of aligns with their more conservative social values.”
“There are a lot of Catholics in the group… so [it’s] not necessarily that they’re anti-identity, that they’re anti-gay or anti-transgender, but… if that’s where you put so much messaging and focus, that may put them off a bit in their confidence that the party is really pushing the things that are most important to their lives. »
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Working-class voters also strongly opposed the Democratic Party’s liberal ideology on issues such as gender and abortion, as well as the perception that Democrats are increasingly intolerant of any dissent on these questions.
A year after a majority of Hispanics voted for Biden, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe lost the Hispanic vote by 12 points in Virginia in 2021, a race that determined whether his party lost touch with concerns of ordinary parents.