Recent indications show Hispanic voters prioritize other issues — like the growing economy
Texas Insider Report: WASHINGTON, D.C. — Democrat Party leaders who have been counting on President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies to spark an energized Hispanic voting-bloc turnout, and a possible “Blue Wave” come November, have been surprised to see that even during the heat of the family-separation crisis, Democrats are under-performing within many heavily Hispanic constituencies.
From GOP-held border battlegrounds in Texas, to diversifying districts in Southern California and the most populous 2018 Senate battleground, Florida, Republicans are running competitively in many Hispanic-heavy states and Congressional Districts — perhaps not despite Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, but because of them.
While the Democrat Left has insisted that dissatisfaction with President Trump would would create a “Bley Wave” and allow them to sweep the U.S. House of Representatives in November, virtually every recent “Generic Ballot” poll has shown that the a Democrat’s advantage has evaporated.
According to a CNN/SSRS poll released at the end of June, Democrats were clinging to a 3% lead over Republicans in the “Generic Ballot” — well within the margin of error:
- Just 47% of voters said they would vote Democrat if the election for Congress were held today.
- 44% said they would choose the Republican candidate — a steep drop since February when 54% of voters said they would choose the Democrat, while 38% said they would vote Republican.
- In March, that lead dropped to just 6 points, when 31% of voters said they think the country would be “better off” if Democrats controlled Congress.
- 30% of voters said America would do better with the GOP in charge.
- 34% said things would be “the same regardless.”
- And in the same poll, 57% of voters said things are going well in the U.S. today, up from 49% February.
- This represents the largest proportion to have a rosy view of America since January 2007.
There are also plenty of other clues suggesting Hispanic voters won’t be rushing to the polls this November.
In a recent special election to fill the vacated seat of former Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas, there were few signs of a Democrat “blue wave”. The reliably Republican district is majority-Hispanic, but GOP candidates carried the same 60% vote share that Trump won in 2016.
And there were no signs of increased Hispanic engagement — even with the border crisis raging not far away.
Those results mirror the results from Texas’ March primaries, when Senate Democrat’s nominee Beto O’Rourke, a progressive favorite, badly under-performed in many border towns with large Hispanic populations.
While O’Rourke carried 87% of the vote in liberal-friendly Travis County (Austin), he ran second to a virtual unknown in a majority of counties along the border.
Such early indications and returns are sobering for Democrats — despite the media’s onslaught against President Trump and his immigration policies, GOP candidates are holding their own in diverse battlegrounds districts.
Rep. Will Hurd of Texas once looked like one of the most vulnerable House Republicans, representing a border district where Hispanics make up 70% of the population — a seat Hillary Clinton carried by 4% in 2016. Hurd has long been an independent GOP voice, emerging as a critic of Trump’s border-wall proposals, and he was a supporter of a path to citizenship for Dreamers. But, as Democrats frequently bring up, he’s also a congressman whose partisan affiliation will help keep Republicans in charge of the House.
He’s in surprisingly good shape as he vies for a 3rd term against Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones. Despite holding one of the 25 GOP seats that Clinton carried, he’s not on the list of The Cook Political Report’s most endangered 31 members.
It’s increasingly becoming clear that the anti-Trump anger is concentrated within whiter, affluent suburban communities, not the Hispanic battlegrounds with the most at stake.
Florida offers an even bigger shock to the Democrats’ system, given its perennial battleground status. In the state’s marquee race pitting Gov. Rick Scott against Sen. Bill Nelson, the governor’s standing with Hispanic voters is keeping him competitive, despite the difficult political environment for Republicans.
Two recently released polls show that Scott, a longtime Trump ally, has a noticeably higher popularity score in Florida than the president. One poll, conducted by CBS News, shows Nelson leading by only 1 point among Hispanics (37& to 36%) while an NBC/Marist survey showed Nelson with a 10-point lead (52%-42%) among the demographic.
Either outcome shows Scott significantly outperforming Trump, who lost the Hispanic vote in Florida by a 27% in 2016, while still carrying the state. Digging deeper, a Florida International University survey of Puerto Ricans in Florida — typically a Democratic-leaning demographic — found that 55% held a positive view of Scott, with 57% holding a positive view of Nelson.
In South Florida, one of the few Republicans to represent a majority-Hispanic district is also showing his resilience. In a recent Democratic survey conducted in the district, Rep. Carlos Curbelo sported a solid 42-27 favorability score, with 48% of voters approving of Trump’s job performance. Clinton won this district by 16%, suggesting that Trump has gained ground with the district’s substantial Cuban-American community since becoming president.
Even in the New York City district where Socialist-Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently engineered her stunning primary upset over the 4th-ranking Democrat in the House, Cong. Joseph Crowley, returns show that the biggest swing away from the congressman took place in the gentrifying precincts filled with young white voters.
Ocasio-Cortez’s compelling biography clearly captured the imagination of the district’s Hispanic population, but it energized the progressive millennials even more.
If immigration is a winning issue for Democrats in the midterms, it’s because they’re winning over suburban white women, not because they’re mobilizing Hispanic voters against Republicans.
Indeed, even as Democrats under-perform in these pivotal races, the historic gender gap appears to be the factor that may propel them to a possible House majority.
So while President Trump may have won the 2016 presidential race based in large part to his hard-line immigration policies, and his strong pro-American rhetoric, many recent indications show that a critical mass of Hispanic voters are willing to prioritize other issues — like the growing economy — in choosing their congressional candidates.
Source: Texas Politics