by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Former President Donald Trump garnered 38% of the Hispanic vote in 2020, a major improvement with this key bloc that some Republicans attribute to the Democratic Party’s embrace of “progressive woke-ism.”
Trump topped his abysmal 2016 performance with Hispanic voters by 10 percentage points, according to a post-election survey from the Pew Research Center. Some of the credit, say Republican operatives who have spent years encouraging Hispanics to support GOP candidates, belongs to the former president’s jobs-focused economic agenda. But the significant Hispanic shift toward Trump might never have happened, they emphasize, absent their perception that Democrats veered sharply left on cultural issues.
Specifically, proposals to defund the police and abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, plus support for a robust climate agenda that would eliminate the use of fossil fuels, sent Hispanics fleeing into the arms of Trump and the Republicans. That’s the conclusion drawn by Daniel Garza, a GOP operative who works in the trenches trying to boost Hispanic support for Republicans and runs LIBRE Initiative, a conservative group focused on outreach to this critical cohort.
“They are rejecting woke progressivism,” Garza told the Washington Examiner in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Ed Espinoza, a Democratic operative in Texas who focuses on Hispanic turnout, rejects Republican claims that 2020 marked a turning point in the party’s quest to become more competitive with this demographic. Espinoza especially takes issue with the notion that the Democratic Party took a cultural left turn that caused Hispanics to switch allegiances. Indeed, it did not surprise him at all that slightly more than one-third of Hispanics supported Trump over President Joe Biden.
“This is a community that is not a monolith,” Espinoza said. “Latinos are not a base electorate — they are a persuasion and base electorate.” In other words, Espinoza explained, it’s always been a mistake to assume that Hispanics are, as a rule, Democratic base voters and therefore impervious to the right campaign pitch, from the right Republican.