Shock waves are still roiling the political universe weeks after a Dec. 8 Wall Street Journal story reported new survey data showing Hispanic voters souring on President Joe Biden and being evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
The same Hispanic voters who favored Biden, a Democrat, in 2020 by a two-to-one margin over Republican President Donald Trump—then well on his way to fulfilling his 2016 promise to “build the wall” on the U.S. border with Mexico—are now split between the two parties, according to the Journal.
Forty-four percent said they would again back Biden in a 2024 rematch, while 43 percent marked themselves for Trump. Those numbers indicate a 20 point drop for Biden. If they hold in the next presidential election, the 2024 outcome could reverse 2020.
The same even split is seen in the Journal’s results among Hispanics regarding the two major political parties, with 37 percent identifying as Democrats and 37 percent identifying as Republicans.
With Republicans already heavily favored to regain congressional majorities in 2022, an even split among Hispanics, who normally vote overwhelmingly Democrat at the congressional level, could be disastrous for Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The Journal survey was conducted jointly by Democratic pollster John Anzalone and Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio. Their survey interviewed 1,500 registered voters, including 165 Hispanics. The small Hispanic sample would usually be a warning to not put too much stock in the results.
But the reason the shock waves didn’t subside shortly after the Journal story appeared is that data showing a dramatic shift among Hispanic voters began emerging soon after the 2020 election, and the results of more recent surveys suggest that the trend is accelerating.
“Strategists in both parties have been working since the 2020 election to calculate the size of the shift among Hispanic voters to the GOP and to understand its causes. One in-depth study, by Catalist, which compiles and analyzes voter data for Democratic candidates and progressive causes, found that Hispanic voters swung toward Mr. Trump by 8 points compared with 2016 in the two-party vote,” the Journal reported.
“Shifts in some parts of the country were larger. In its analysis of the 2020 electorate, Equis Labs, which studies the Latino electorate, found swings toward the GOP of 20 points in parts of Florida’s Miami-Dade County; of 12 points in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas; and double-digit swings in parts of the Northeast. In South Florida, the shift was big enough to flip two congressional seats to the GOP, the firm concluded.”
David Shor, research director of Open Labs R&D, a New York-based data analysis firm, told NPR on July 11 that the 2020 elections showed a definite shift among Hispanics away from Democrats to Republicans.
“Basically everywhere where there were large concentrations of Hispanic voters, there were large swings in the 6 to 9 percent range. And, you know, that ranges from the Bronx in New York to Arizona to Massachusetts to California. This was a national trend that happened basically everywhere,” Shor told NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
A more recent indicator of an accelerating trend among Hispanics away from Biden and the Democrats is seen in the most recent NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist College Poll, which found that 65 percent of Hispanic respondents disapproved of Biden’s performance since taking office in 2021. Only 35 percent of Hispanic voters said they still supported Biden, with an unusually small 2 percent being unsure of who they would support.
The Hispanic results of the Marist survey, which was conducted during the second week of December among more than 1,000 registered voters, were far from the only worries that it produced for Biden and Democrats. Among respondents making less than $50,000 annually, 57 percent disapproved of Biden, compared to 37 percent approving. The numbers for those making more than $50,000 were similar, showing 55 percent disapproving and 42 percent approving.
Similarly, 52 percent of nonwhite voters disapproved of Biden’s job performance, compared to 44 percent who approved of it. White college-educated suburban women were the only consistent Biden supporters in the survey.
University of Southern California (USC) sociology professor Manuel Pastor told The Epoch Times on Dec. 29 that the trend “is definitely occurring.”
“To some extent, a lot of political analysts were surprised that Trump did as well with Latinos, or Hispanics, in the most recent presidential election, especially after four years of anti-immigrant rhetoric, though that was toned down a bit in the last year,” he said.
Pastor, director of USC’s Equity Research Institute (ERI), said the shift was initially attributed to Hispanic voters in Texas and Florida, particularly in areas on the U.S. border with Mexico.
“The painting of the Democrats as socialists raises a lot of fears, not just among Cubans, but also other exiles that are immigrants to Florida and Texas,” he said. “In the borderlands of Texas, Hispanics are likely to have an undocumented cousin and an uncle who works for the Border Patrol, so they tend to be of two minds about how tough to be about the border.
“The Republican inroads have been a little bit stronger or more widespread than that. Latinos are still overwhelmingly Democrats, but not at the same level as black Americans are.
“That’s not entirely a surprise, as Latinos have long been a constituency that Republicans could make some inroads with because of family formation and family values [and] high levels of labor force attachment, which squares with work ethic, because of high levels of entrepreneurship.”
The ERI describes itself as seeking “to use data and analysis to contribute to a more powerful, well-resourced, intersectional, and inter-sectoral movement for equity.”
Asked about Biden’s high disapproval numbers, Pastor pointed to the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the Hispanic community.
“The Latino population has been super-hard hit by COVID, by the combination of the health impacts where the case rates have been much higher, and, especially, the death rates, which when you adjust for the age disparities, has been much higher than among black Americans,” he said.
Lending support to Pastor’s analysis on the role of the virus is the fact that respondents rated COVID-19 as their number one concern in the most recent Ipsos-Axios Latino Poll, which was done in conjunction with Telemundo.