Ignore Greg Abbott’s (and the Texas GOP’s) Appetite for Latino Voters at Your Peril
For his reelection campaign for Texas governor, Greg Abbott will aggressively court the Latino vote, especially the vote in Tejano-heavy South Texas. Abbott received about 45% of the Latino vote in his last two elections, but he aims to have at least 50% Latinos in the next election, bolstered by the presence of socially conservative Latino candidates in traditional Democratic strongholds.
“When we have these amazing candidates on the ballot who are Hispanic candidates, they will bring out the Hispanic vote more,” the governor said. “Not only will I win [the] Hispanic vote in Texas, first time Republicans will win border counties, we will win counties in the Rio Grande Valley. We will win counties that have never been won before.
Antonio Allerado, a civil rights advocate, said changing demographics in the state likely contributed to this heavy focus on Tejano voters.
“They know Latinos are an untapped gold mine. Now it’s up to the Democratic Party to match that investment,” Allerado said in a December interview with Nexstar. my mind that the Latino vote in Texas is absolutely crucial. And what’s happening now is we’re seeing both political parties start trying to win over Latino voters.
People should be careful, because Latino gains in the Republican Party may not be unique. For example, in Starr County, just 46 voters voted in the Republican primaries in 2018; this year, about 1,100 voters cast ballots in the Republican primaries. Across South Texas, turnout in the Texas midterm Republican primaries was up 25% from 2020. Some have attributed the growth in Republican voters to the Democratic Party reducing door-to-door campaigns amid the coronavirus pandemic, while some have attributed it to the Democratic Party not listening enough to Latino voters on issues other than immigration reform.
Perhaps more fundamentally, they say, Democrats need to do more to listen to the priorities of Latino voters and make less assumptions about their support.
“It plays into that elitist brand that the Democratic Party is trying so hard to undermine,” said Devon Murphy-Anderson, former chief financial officer for the Florida Democratic Party. “You can’t do that when you point at someone and say, ‘We know what’s best for you, and that’s our candidate. “”
Banking on identity-based appeal, Democrats launched the kind of bilingual messaging in South Texas last year that worked well among Mexican Americans in Los Angeles and Puerto Ricans in New York, focused on a celebration of diversity and immigration. Republicans, on the other hand, have recognized that Hispanic South Texans share many of the same values as non-Hispanic white voters elsewhere in Texas and have thrown themselves into gun rights advocacy, oil industry promotion and gas, restricting abortion and supporting law enforcement. . Republicans were more persuasive.
Yes, fear-appealing ads like the one below are intriguing and could scare voters into voting Democratic.
But despite fiery anti-immigration rhetoric from Republican politicians, Republicans have made gains in the Latino-dense areas of El Paso, San Antonio and Houston; some of these areas have no significant Tejano block. Additionally, some Latino-heavy neighborhoods in Houston have significant numbers of Trump voters, particularly in East Houston near oil and chemical refineries.
Moreover, around September of last year, Latinos in Texas approved of Greg Abbott’s handling of the border far more than President Biden’s. And even if Republicans don’t make headway among Latinos, the margins can still affect close races, whether governor, senatorial or congressional. I cannot stress enough how this should not be ignored.
It is also essential to support and donate to candidates like Beto O’Rourke, Lina Hidalgo, Sylvia Garcia, Al Green, Greg Casar and Veronica Escobar.