The biggest story in American politics is the shift of Hispanic voters from reliable Democratic supporters to a much less predictable mix, with a huge and growing segment making their home in the Republican Party.
It became a huge story when 37% of Hispanics voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, almost 10 points more than had supported him in the previous election. And that after four years of his border wall building and immigration crackdowns. It didn't stop there. A major analysis of the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election showed that a majority of Hispanics there appear to have voted for the Republican, putting him in the governor's mansion.
Now, almost every poll shows Hispanics planning to vote for Republicans this fall at a higher rate than they did in the 2020 election. A Rasmussen Reports poll commissioned for my new book, Political Migrants: Hispanic Voters On The Move, says 41% plan to vote Republican, against only 45% who've decided to back Democrats, with others undecided. Since only 29% of Hispanics voted Republican in the last midterm election in 2018, 41% would be an amazing leap forward. In fact, 41% would be the highest share Republicans have ever received from Hispanics in a midterm election.
Forty-one percent support nationally might translate into a GOP majority in relatively conservative areas like Florida and South Texas, sweeping several Hispanic Republican House candidates into office.
Why is this happening? Part of the answer is that America's Hispanics strongly object to the open borders immigration policies of the Biden administration. Every month of Joe Biden's presidency has proven a disaster for illegal border crossings due to his massive reliance on catch-and-release and other failed policies. In just 18 months, more than 1.3 million illegal aliens have managed to cross into the U.S. and stay. This disaster hurts all Americans, but it hurts legal immigrants and the 40+ million Hispanics born in America worse than most. Rasmussen polling shows that 52% of Hispanic likely voters think the government is doing "too little to reduce illegal border crossings and visitor overstays." And 67% of Hispanic likely voters want the federal E-Verify system, which checks whether new hires are legally allowed to work in the U.S., to be mandatory for every employer. 58% even want to cut levels of legal immigration, with 38% wanting to cut it by half or more!
But many other Democratic policies are turning off Hispanic voters. The party seems hooked on trendy social issues, phony-sounding labels like "Latinx," pessimism about America, and even talk of socialism. These are major turnoffs for Hispanics, who pride themselves on their emphasis on hard work and family life. Dwarfing even these in importance, however, is Hispanic voters' dissatisfaction with Democratic economic performance. For half of Hispanic likely voters this fall, either the economy or inflation is the number one issue, far outstripping healthcare, immigration, crime, or education as their top concern. And Hispanic likely voters trust Republicans to manage the U.S. economy over the Democrats by nine points, 45% - 36%.
So more and more Hispanics are identifying and voting Republican. What will be the likely effect in the near future? To visualize what it might be like, let's use our imaginations. Try changing recent history in your mind. Let's rerun the 2020 presidential election, imagining that America's Hispanic citizens had given 45% of their votes to Donald Trump instead of the 37% they actually did. If Hispanics had given the GOP 45% of their votes, what would that have changed about the outcome? EVERYTHING!
If Trump had gotten 45% of Hispanic votes in Georgia, he would have received 80,100 votes and Biden would have gotten only 97,900, or 55%. In that case, instead of Biden winning Georgia by an official 11,779 votes, Trump would have carried the state by 14,921 votes. Just a bit more support from Hispanics would have done it.
Similarly, in Arizona, Hispanics actually supported Biden over Trump 61% - 37%, netting Biden 195,360 votes. But if Hispanics there too had given 45% of their vote to Trump, Biden's "net" Hispanic vote would have been only 81,400, or about half. In that case, instead of losing Arizona by a razor-thin margin of only 10,457 votes, Trump would have won there by 103,503! It would have been an easy victory!
Similar scenarios also work out in Nevada and Pennsylvania. With just seven percentage points of additional support from Hispanics nationally, Trump would have won Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Nevada. He would be living in the White House today.
Of course, none of that happened. Getting 37% of the Hispanic vote was definitely an achievement, but it wasn't quite enough to do the trick. But what if the GOP manages to get more next time, say, 45%? It might make all the difference. And that's why both parties are so focused on Hispanics right now.