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After Trump gains with Hispanics, GOP fortunes accelerating with America's biggest minority

Republican are now even with Democrats for the first time in polling among Latino voters.

Published: December 27, 2021 11:45am

Updated: December 27, 2021 10:55pm

Donald Trump cut into Democrats' traditional advantage with Hispanics during his four years in office, though Joe Biden still won a majority in the 2020 election among America's fastest growing and largest minority population.

But America's 46th president and his Democratic Party has been losing Latino support ever since, with new polling showing Republicans now dead even among Hispanic voters headed into the pivotal 2022 elections that will determine control of Congress.

Last month's stunning GOP victories in Virginia only further highlighted Democrats' losses, with one exit poll suggesting Republican Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin captured a majority of the Hispanic vote with his focus on education and lower taxes.

It's a dynamic that the news media can no longer ignore as Biden policies that opened the border, grew violent crime and exploded inflation alienated a constituency that had been long key to Democratic electoral strategies.

"The bottom line is Hispanics are one of the most entrepreneurial ethnic groups on the face of the earth, especially in this country, and the Biden policies have had a negative impact on their businesses and their communities," said Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network small business group who served as a commissioner on the Trump White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.

The shift of Hispanic voters toward Republicans has rocked the political world. A poll last month from The Wall Street Journal found Hispanic voters are now split between Republicans and Democrats on the generic ballot at 37% apiece, with 22% undecided.

Democratic pollster John Anzalone said the findings make clear that "Latinos are more and more becoming swing voters" that Democrats are "going to have to fight for."

The shift began during the last presidency with Trump's pro-economic policies attracting new Hispanic voters to the polls, giving Trump an 8 percentage point swing among Hispanic voters in 2020 compared to 2016. While Biden still captured 61 percent of the Latino vote, he feared far worst than Hillary Clinton's performance in 2016.

The erosion of Hispanic voters from Biden accelerated in 2021, giving Republicans a surge of confidence heading into mid-term elections. One of the exit polls from the Virginia election last month projected Youngkin won 55 percent of the Hispanic vote, though some dispute that. But few dispute a shift occurred in a state that was solidly blue for a decade.

Rep. Maria Salazar, a freshman Republican from Florida, said in an interview Sunday night the shift is happening nationally because many Hispanics equate Democratic policies like big government spending, higher taxes, more regulation, and critical race theory with socialist countries from which they or their ancestors fled.

"We share the same values that are entrenched in the Republican party. God fearing, law abiding, tax paying," she said. "Not only that, that we are Americans, we’re not socialists, We want to come into the country and we want to contribute," Salazar told Fox News.

The Democrats constant talking down of America is also backfiring with Hispanics who take great pride in their immigration to the United States, Salazar added.

"We come here for two things. We come because we know this is the promised land, we want to share those fruits," she told host Trey Gowdy. "And we want to have a better economy. We want to be able to go from rags to riches which is what this American exceptionality promises."

Ortiz said GOP support for school choice, coupled with Democratic support for critical race theory, defunding police and open borders has also had an impact.

"Democrats think Hispanics are a monolithic group, and that their most most important issue is immigration," he said. "But polling shows immigration is not one of their top issues. It's the economy, jobs and education. And on all three of those, Biden and the Democrats are really failing."

He said the illegal migrant surge at an insecure southern border coupled with rising crime from gangs and other bad actors has actually made immigration a negative for Democrats. Latinos "hate policies that allow all these gangs and criminals to enter and besiege their communities," Ortiz said.

A recent poll by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation affirmed Ortiz's observations, showing Hispanic voters in Texas want tougher, not easier border controls. It found a majority of Texas Latinos supported four out of five of the border security policies that have been implemented by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

"This advantage could prove pivotal to the Republican effort to retake control of the U.S. House," Mark P. Jones, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy’s fellow in political science and the Joseph D. Jamail chair in Latin American Studies at Rice University, wrote in a recent OpEd in The Hill

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