Just as African-American voters realigned with Democrats during the Great Depression, the midterms proved a new and similar seismic shift is taking place in America among Hispanic voters. This time, Republicans are the beneficiaries.
Smart conservative stalwarts like the late Congressman Jack Kemp predicted this for many years. President George H.W. Bush’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Kemp strongly believed Hispanic Republicans would someday drive an American Renaissance. As disappointing as the 2022 elections were for the GOP, the results proved that time has come.
Because of the Republican Party’s historic position as the anti-slavery party and Abraham Lincoln’s role in the Emancipation Proclamation, African-American voters were reliably Republican after the Civil War and up until the Great Depression.
Although they were prevented from voting in the South through intimidation, violence, literacy tests, and poll taxes, African-Americans in the industrial Northeast and Midwest essentially allowed Republicans to dominate the White House from 1861 until 1932, with few interruptions.In fact the GOP would only lose the White House twice in three times in this period- twice to Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892 and again to Woodrow Wilson in 1912 when the Republican Party was split and Theodore Roosevelt bolted the GOP to lead the Bull Moose Party.
Even in 1932, more Blacks voted for Herbert Hoover than for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The social welfare programs of the New Deal under FDR, later cemented into place by the Great Society and Civil Rights Programs of President Lyndon Johnson, caused a dramatic shift in alliances. African-Americans became the most reliably Democrat voting segment.
The failure by Hoover and the Republicans to advance any program for economic recovery was a major historic blunder. By 1964, LBJ, who as Senate Majority Leader had sabotaged various open-voting, fair housing and civil rights efforts, was able to erase his history as a segregationist and recast himself as the “Civil Rights President.”
Although President Donald Trump scored historic gains among Black voters, the overwhelming majority of African-Americans continue to vote overwhelmingly Democrat. I am convinced that, had the President’s reelection campaign done more to promote awareness of Trump’s historic reforms in our criminal justice system through the use of both urban and gospel radio, the President could have done even better among these voters. I believe the 1994 Crime Bill was racist in the harsh, mandatory penalties the law provided for those with no previous criminal record and that this law has fallen disproportionately on poor and Black people. It was President Donald Trump who pushed and passed both the First Step Act and the Second Chance Act. Unfortunately, more African-American voters did not know this in 2020.
Quite to the contrary, Hispanic voters have moved significantly to the right. In the most recent midterm elections, the Democrats’ margins among Hispanics, a traditionally Democrat voter group, was cut in half to just D+21%, the best performance ever among Hispanics for the Republicans in a national election.
According to an AP Votecast exit poll, the Democrat margin may have been an even narrower D+17.
In Arizona for example, exit polling showed Republican candidate Kari Lake scoring a 47% share of the state’s Hispanic vote—a 10% improvement over President Trump’s share of the vote in 2020. At the same time, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters won 40% of Arizona Hispanics (a 10% improvement over the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate candidate there).
In Florida, the surge or Hispanic voters was a tidal wave. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis was reelected with 58% of Florida Hispanics while U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was reelected with 56% of the Hispanic vote. Republicans even won a majority in 70% Hispanic Miami-Dade County, long a Democrat stronghold. DeSantis and Rubio won not only among traditionally Republican Cuban-Americans but also among Puerto Ricans (with DeSantis winning 56% of the vote and Rubio winning 54%). Among non-Cuban or Puerto Rican Hispanics, mostly Mexican and Colombian-Americans, both Republicans won about 50% of the vote. This is ground-breaking.
In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp won 43% of the Hispanic vote to Stacey Abrams 55%, a marked improvement given Abrams’ 25 point advantage among Hispanic in 2018. Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker won 39% of Hispanic voters in November—an improvement over defeated U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler’s 36% two years ago.
Republicans also made progress among Hispanics in Texas. As Giancarlo Sopo, a respected authority on Hispanic voting trends and the Republican Party, noted, “Republicans won one out of three congressional seats in the Rio Grande Valley and there are promising signs for the GOP with South Texas Latinos. In TX-15, Monica De La Cruz impressively flipped a historically blue Democrat district. She won an R+1 district by nine points and improved upon the GOP’s 2020 margins in 93% Hispanic Hidalgo County by 5 points. In TX-28, Cassy Garcia was a strong candidate who had the best performance ever for a GOP congressional candidate in TX-28, despite her Democratic opponent consistently being given a major platform on conservative media and even help from some Texas Republicans. In TX-34, Mayra Flores delivered a strong performance, cutting down the Democrats’ margins in half in a Biden +16 district. Flores and Garcia should remain key figures in the GOP’s Hispanic outreach. Republicans also delivered strong performances in several local races.”
One of the keys to this Republican surge among Hispanic voters was more skillful and adept use of Spanish-language media. One of the classic mistakes Republicans have made in their failure to make more significant inroads among African-American voters has been their failure to utilize both urban and gospel radio and other targeted advertising.
In 2020, the Trump reelection campaign had “Trump-Pence” billboards from South Florida to the Panhandle but spent not a farthing on Spanish-language radio or cable advertising. They still scored a historic 37% of Florida’s Hispanic vote. This year, Republican candidates did not make this mistake.
In 2022, a survey of the spending reports by Republican candidates in Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and even New York, showed that Republican candidates were finally making serious strategic investments in highly targeted and effective Spanish-language media including radio cable and digitally. It is important to note that while Nevada Republicans also made gains among Hispanic voters, those gains were more modest. A review of Republican campaign spending in the Silver State showed no concerted effort to utilize Spanish-language media.
There is little chance national Democrats will abandon the underlying “woke” philosophy which, based on all polling, is fundamentally anathema to Hispanic voters. If Republicans continue adept use of highly effective and targeted Spanish-language media, the realignment of Hispanics into the Republican base will continue.
In 2024, Hispanic voters may become a fundamental element to a permanent political realignment and Republican majority. In no small way, Hispanic voters may save America.