The Republican Party believes that a strong emphasis on the economy will allow it to continue making gains in Latino communities across the country, according to two senior Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Since the November 2020 election, insiders and analysts from both sides of the political spectrum have noted that Donald Trump and the Republican Party made significant gains with Latino voters, even if now-President Joe Biden and the Democrats still retained the majority in both chambers of Congress.
In late June, data released by the Pew Research Center found that while Biden won 59% of the Latino vote in 2020 compared to Trump's 38%, there were considerable differences in political preference based on education.
The data shows that Biden win 69% of college-educated Latino voters, compared to Trump's 30%. Among Latino voters with "some" college or less, however, Biden's lead shrank 14 points with 55% of the vote, compared to 41% for Trump.
In an interview with LPO, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said that the Latino electorate's slight shift to the right is "closely connected to the socio-economic shift in our politics over the last decade."
"Conventional wisdom used to be that Republicans are the party of the rich, and that Democrats are the party of the working class. In the last decade, that has flipped upside down," he said. "Today, Republicans, I believe, should be the party of working men and women - truck drivers, construction workers, steel workers, cops, firefighters, waiters and waitresses."
In the state of Texas, Cruz added, the Republican Party has benefitted from the perception that Democrats are "the party of rich coastal elites."
"Many of them look down on working men and women," he added. "I think the Hispanic vote reflects that broader trend in Texas. If you're a Hispanic guy living in South Texas and you drive a pick-up truck or you work in the oil fields, and you go bird hunting on weekends, you voted for Donald Trump."
Cruz added that while there is considerable diversity in the political preferences of Latino communities across the country - with those in Florida leaning towards the right and those in California leaning towards the left, for example - he said he believes that Latinos across the country are "fundamentally a conservative community."
"The values that resonate in our community are faith, family, patriotism, hard work - the American dream," he said. "Those are conservative values and as the Democratic Party goes further and further left, embracing fringe theories like critical race theory, abolishing the police and advocating for socialism, they are losing Hispanics."
In April, a detailed post-mortem analysis of the 2020 election released by the Democratically-aligned Equis Labs found that a "fear of socialism" and the left was among the primary reasons that some Latino voters cast their ballot for the Republican parties, alongside the economy and "realignment along lines of gender, education and ideology."
In a separate interview with LPO, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that he believes that a perceived connection between the Democrats and Socialism is playing a significant part in the swell of support among for the Republicans among Latino voters.
"A lot of Latino families have connections to socialist countries, and they don't want it to come here," he said. "I think the shift right is being pushed by the left more than it is being formed by the Republicans. But we're back in the game."
Graham added that he believes that a number of factors meant that many Latinos were willing to overlook the rhetoric of former President Trump.
"With President Trump's economic policies before Covid, all boats were rising in the country," he said. "I think people saw his presidency as being a good-for-business, socially conservative presidency. I honk people gave him credit for being a disruptive force that saw more positive than negative."
Giancarlo Sopo, the former Director of Rapid Response for Spanish-language media of the Donald Trump campaign, said that these messages are likely to form the core of Republican outreach efforts to the Latino community in the 2022 and 2024 elections.
"I think it's very important that the [Republican] Party continue communicating this blue collar, conservative message," he told LPO. "That clearly resonated with a wide cross-section of the Latino electorate and other demographic groups as well."
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