- Hispanic and Latino voters have historically voted for Democratic candidates, but Republican gains in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections reveal a potential realignment ahead of the midterm and presidential elections.
- “Once Donald Trump came into office, he was kind of ubiquitous on news stations. You couldn’t really get away from him,” Colombian American Carolina Serrano, who is one of 103 Hispanic GOP candidates seeking a congressional seat this November, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
- “[Republicans] started reaching out to Latinos while Democrats, many times, had a lackluster outreach operation, especially at the congressional level,” Democrat political strategist Chuck Rocha told TheDCNF.
Republican Congressional candidate Carolina Serrano said Hispanic and Latino lives have gotten worse after years of voting for Democrats, while Republican gains among the base reveal a potential realignment ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections.
There are a record 103 Hispanic GOP candidates running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Serrano, a Colombian American woman running to be the Republican candidate in Nevada’s 1st Congressional District. Serrano said former President Donald Trump’s presidency contributed to the wider trend of Hispanic and Latino voters shifting to the Republican Party.
“Once Donald Trump came into office, he was kind of ubiquitous on news stations. You couldn’t really get away from him,” Serrano told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “For me, I started paying attention to what he was saying, and to be honest I’d never really seen a politician before champion America or American citizens or really want to put American citizens first so that first grabbed my attention.”
“Hispanics are no different from white Americans, Asian Americans, black Americans, we all want safe communities, good schools, good-paying jobs, and just to overall live a good life,” she said.
Serrano said Trump’s policies resonated with Hispanics as many hail from countries suffering from violent crime and extreme corruption.
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“There’s no really middle class. There’s no real chance of escaping whatever class that you’re born into,” she said. “That is what, I think, woke up Hispanics is seeing that after voting for Democrats for so long life hasn’t improved – it’s actually gotten worse.”
“Then you had Donald Trump come in and actually put some policies in place that worked for all Americans,” Serrano said.
The economy, crime and safety, and education are the top three issues for Hispanic and Latino voters, according to a February poll from FreedomWorks. Hispanics saw Republicans as a way to get the country back on track following restrictive COVID-19 measures, according to Peter Vicenzi, the director of communications at FreedomWorks.
“A lot of people who are Hispanic work service industry jobs or construction jobs that were really hit really hard by COVID restrictions,” Vicenzi told TheDCNF. “They saw Republicans as the way, kind of, to get back to work and get the country headed in the right direction.”
Vicenzi said the GOP needs to remind voters it supports law enforcement and “[supports] parents having a choice in their kids’ education” in order to continue their momentum and build on their support from the Hispanic and Latino voter base. Nearly 60% of the March poll’s respondents support “parental involvement in education,” according to a press release.
“People come to America because we’re a country that has a strong emphasis on rule of law,” he said. “Republicans actually support school choice. That’s a big issue that resonates, we found in our polling, that really resonates with Hispanics.”
The 2020 presidential election also revealed a rightward shift among Hispanic and Latino voters, notably in Florida and Texas border counties. Democratic political strategist Chuck Rocha described the shift as what he called an “erosion” of Latino voters to the right due to a greater effort on the Republican side and a “lackluster” effort from Democrats.
“Well, first of all, I think that you need to think about Latino voters more so than the Latino vote because it’s just different from state to state and it’s different from election to election,” Rocha told TheDCNF. “But one thing is clear is that there has been an erosion, a slight erosion in most states, to the Republican Party as Latinos are coming of age.”
“Republicans never had before up until about 10 years ago spent any kind of really resources to communicate to Latinos,” he said. “So, they started reaching out to Latinos while Democrats, many times, had a lackluster outreach operation, especially at the congressional level.”
Democrats should focus on immigration, specifically better border security and a pathway to citizenship, and education, such as vouchers and charter schools for black and Hispanic communities ahead of the 2022 and 2024 elections, according to Doug Schoen, a former adviser to former President Bill Clinton. He also said funding, not defunding, the police is another key issue in both Hispanic and black communities.
“Well, for example, in terms of Hispanics, I would suggest that doing a grand bargain on immigration – tighter border security combined with a pathway to citizenship – would, in my judgment, be a very good way to address the issues of the borders,” Schoen told TheDCNF. “Something that the Democrats have been, I think, largely silent on.”
“The people that are most reliant on law enforcement on a day-to-day basis are those who are living in areas that arguably would have the highest crime rates,” he said. “And, frequently, not always, but frequently those areas are black and Hispanic areas.”
Content created by Samantha Renck
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