What Do We Make Of Trump’s Overperformance with Hispanics

Much has been made of the polls missing 2020, not just nationally but in close swing states. Digging deeper into the numbers, looking at individual precincts in recent months, has shown that Donald Trump massively increased his margins not just in Southern Florida, but also ironically in formerly red states he oh so narrowly lost like Arizona and Georgia.

More recently, the Democratic polling firm Equis, took a gander at the difference in results between Clinton/Biden and Trump 2016 vs. 2020 in the major counties of Maricopa (AZ), Milwaukee (WI), Clark (NV), Miami – Dade (FL), Paterson (NJ) and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Their findings are highlighted below and show Trump dramatically increased his margins among this voting bloc relative to not just 2016 but even Mitt Romney in 2012.

There have been many explanations given to why this occurred but few which the data clearly points to. Reasons why Latinos behaved this way include Trump downplayed immigration issues vs. 2016, Latino men were more attracted to Trump’s 2020 machismo, Trump’s emphasis on business issues and his stewardship of pro – life causes.

All seem to have some merit minus the “machismo narrative. The reason being Trump’s gains among self – identified Latinos was not just among men but also among women. Yes, men gave Trump larger increases than women, but that was also true among Asian and Black men. Additionally, men were the sex which backed the President vs. women according to exit polls (which were less than accurate this year).

If we look at the other reasons given however, they have merit. Trump’s campaign focused much more on the threat of socialism and defunding the police. These are the very issues Democrats felt led to their much smaller majority in the House. Trump’s team also made a concerted effort to sell their tax cuts and while to well – off white, educated voters these appeals might have fallen flat to minority business owners the cuts were seen as a benefit. Finally, polls do show Latinos and Blacks are more socially conservative than white suburban voters and as such perhaps a few drifted to Trump over his appointment of pro – life judges to the bench. I am less sure of the analysis a downplayed campaign around immigration helped when public opinion polls consistently show strong support for “securing the border.”

There are other factors at play though which I think anecdotally matter much more. The first, organizing. It does sound somewhat strange, amid an era of electoral politics where billions are spent on TV, that is billons with a b, the fundamentals of winning a campaign remain the same. Mobilize your supporters.

Minus Maricopa, a group of Democratic polling firms found in their findings Democrats lack of mobilization in urban areas led to lower propensity Democratic voters to come out and vote. Or, in the case of the Rio Grande Valley, irregular Hispanic voters who showed conservative tendencies came out thanks to the GOP door – knocking and campaigning heavily in the region for the first time in a decade while Democrats, worried about COVID, focused on digital and TV. This was surely exacerbated by the Biden team not investing heavily in the state until late in the campaign.

The same data shows in Miami Dade County where low propensity Republican voters were estimated to have turned out at four times (as in 400%) the rate of their Democratic counterpoints. Even in Maricopa County, Trump underperformed among whites but almost made up for it with gains among Latinos.

It should also be noted the Equis analysis is complimented by a report from the New York Times which came out prior. It details how across the country, in virtually every major metro area (LA, NYC, Houston, Miami, OC, California, Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, San Antonio, Dallas, San Jose, Las Vegas, Denver, Fort Worth, Atlanta, Orlando, Albuquerque and Philadelphia), even in these counties which Biden won, many handily, he underperformed among Hispanics and Asians in precincts with more than 65 percent of Hispanic and Asian residents, relative to 2016.

Something this massive, even in an election the GOP lost, cannot be ignored as due to a unique set of factors of an election. Yes, COVID prevented Democratic organizing and yes the GOP kept canvassing, and yes all the other hypothesis have some merit but what if this is a continuation of a long – term trend only accelerated by the former 45th President. That is, class politics.

Analysis of income based results show lower – income minorities were more likely to vote for Trump. Same with white voters whereas middle and higher income voters shifted to Biden. This suggests, despite the myriad other factors which play in and can dominate the horse race narrative of elections, class has an inevitable pull on voters.

The modern Democratic coalition is an upstairs – downstairs coalition of well – off, highly educated suburban whites/minorities and younger, lower – income whites/minorities. The GOP coalition until 2020 was mostly white, middle to higher income whites. That dynamic seems to have only accelerated in 2020, very likely fueled by the campaign choices of those at the top of the ticket.

That said, one cannot also ignore how this acceleration has sociological underpinnings. A few years ago, I read an article highlighting the differences among generations of immigrant voters (and even differences among larger demographic groups with different organ nations). The findings were interesting in that 1st generation immigrants tended to be more Democratic but subsequent generations tended to be less so and adopt and the broader political mannerisms of the nation. However, 1st generation minority immigrants also tended to be more socially conservative than their multi- generation Democratic counterparts. As America’s politics become increasingly polarized around cultural lines, is it any surprise we would see this trend in the results?

One can easily find a few examples of this. For example, despite being a majority – minority district, New Mexico’s 3 CD regularly elects conservative Republicans. The same for heavily Cuban – American South Florida (these areas elected Republicans to replace their Democratic counterparts last year).

As for adoption of the overarching political environment of the nation we just witnessed it. The clear class and income divide the 2020 election showed cannot be denied. As white, suburban America, with access to institutions and positions of power, while handing out crumbs to POC and assuaging their guilt through wokeness, becomes clearer, lower – class Hispanics and POC increasingly turn away from the party which “should” garner their support.

Ultimately, we may never know for sure why Hispanics and other POC groups came out for Trump so strongly. It might be a blip, a temporary acceleration, or a harbinger of a future and permanent trend. We will have to wait and see.


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