The Evolution of the Hispanic Vote

July 25, 2022 Updated: July 27, 2022

Commentary

Mayra Flores’s victory in the Texas-34 special congressional election attracted a lot of attention, and deservedly so.

The rapid movement of Mexican Americans in Texas, and Cuban Americans and Puerto Ricans in Florida, to the Republican Party has shaken the left to its core, who for years have confidently pinned their future political hopes on demographic destiny and the idea that Hispanic voters would be a permanent fixture of their electoral base. That base appears to be slipping away, though what happens from here is still very much up in the air.

For all her dynamism and work ethic, Flores did not achieve victory on her own. She benefited from a growing shift, which also manifested itself in the 2021 election of a Republican mayor for McAllen, Texas—a supermajority-Hispanic border city within a historic Democratic stronghold—and the by-now famous rightward shift of south Texas Mexican Americans in the 2020 presidential race. Nevertheless, Flores’s victory was a clear win for the Republicans. Her “God, Family, Country” slogan represented everything anathema to the modern left. It was a full repudiation of the woke anti-capitalist ideology that has become a secular religion among liberals.

The phenomenon of the Tejano shift is even making itself felt among Texas Democrats. Consider the recent primary victory, post-recount, of incumbent Congressman Henry Cuellar in Texas’s 28th congressional district. The national progressive apparatus went all-in for Cuellar’s opponent, activist Jessica Cisneros. Why? Cuellar is pro-life: in fact, he’s the last pro-life Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and as such was relentlessly attacked by the party base. That base comprises most of the modern Democratic Party, but it’s out of sync with his district, which is why he managed to prevail.

While Cuellar’s victory was not a victory for conservatism, it was very much a defeat for progressivism. His and Flores’s wins both reflect the growing Hispanic rejection of woke ideology and its precepts. And each group within the Hispanic broad tent has its different reasons and perspectives. Americans of Cuban, Venezuelan, or Nicaraguan descent recoil from the liberal enthusiasm for socialism and its mechanisms. Americans of Mexican, Honduran, or Guatemalan descent are repulsed at the thought of overthrowing law and order or abolishing the police. Nearly all of them are repelled at the fanaticism of leftist gender ideology and the rejection of religion.

The probability that the left changes direction any time soon is low because its funders and intellectual leadership are in a commanding position within their own movement. Fringe voices on the left now seem to be controlling the direction of the current administration and promoting a radical new agenda for the country.

The challenge for Republicans and the right is to do something more than rely upon that process of repulsion to effect a full realignment. It isn’t enough for the left to lose Hispanics—conservatives must win them over. In Texas, quiet efforts have been underway to deserve the Hispanic vote for some time.

What comes next is difficult to foresee. It’s entirely possible that Hispanics writ large, even Mexican Americans in California, align rightward and stay there. It’s just as possible they’ll normalize within the general population and become a permanently contested group, open to split or swing any given way in any given election. Either one of these possibilities presents profound difficulties for the national Democratic coalition, which would have to scramble for offsetting voting groups elsewhere.

What won’t happen, though, is a return to the past. U.S. Hispanics aren’t likely going back to their days as a Democratic monolith. A growing number of Hispanics have been turned off by the extremism of liberal policies and support an America First agenda that allows them to advance their education, seek gainful employment, start new businesses, keep their families and communities safe, and contribute to the success of our country. Thus, the era of political monoculture is over. Mayra Flores wasn’t the one to end it, but her race confirmed it.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Brooke Leslie Rollins is the president and CEO of the America First Policy Institute.
Jorge Martinez is Hispanic Outreach Strategist & Spanish spokesperson for the America First Policy Institute. He previously served as press secretary at the U.S. Justice Department.