Sunday, November 15, 2020

Hispanic-American Voters In Texas

The Texas Tribune Reports: Donald Trump made inroads in South Texas this year. Voters in the historically Democratic stronghold of South Texas are left wondering whether this was simply a strange election during moi an unusual year or a sign of a profound political realignment in the region.

Texas Monthly reports in its article, "Why Did Joe Biden Lose Ground With Latinos in South Texas? ," before this year, the Rio Grande Valley had been a Democratic stronghold, supporting the party’s presidential candidate in every election since 1972, often by nearly forty-point margins. But for months ahead of the 2020 election, local organizers in the Valley and throughout South Texas had been warning Joe Biden’s campaign about anecdotal evidence of a shift away from the party.

The Texas Observer says in its article, "Local Organizers Explain the Republican Surge in South Texas:"

Even as local turnout surged, border counties largely shifted right, shrinking Democrats’ margins of victory in the presidential race and in key Congressional and state races. Starr County, one of the poorest in the U.S. and with the highest share of Hispanic residents, had the biggest shift. Barack Obama won by 73 points in 2012. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won by 60. This year, Joe Biden led by just five points. Local Democratic Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, who handily won re-election last cycle, hung onto his seat by less than three points.

Next to Starr County in neighboring Zapata County, which Clinton won by 33 percentage points in 2016, voters didn’t just swing more to the right — the county flipped all the way red.

And that trend continued all the way up and down the Texas-Mexico border, where Trump won 14 of the 28 counties that Clinton had nearly swept in 2016 while winning by an average of 33 percentage points. This year those same counties went for Biden by an average of just 17 points.

Did voters in Hispanic majority counties who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Hillary Clinton in 2016 really flip to vote for Donald Trump in 2020? Most of the news reporting and discussion among Democratic and Republican activists alike is in the context of “one time Democratic voters flipped to vote Republican in 2020.” Comparing just the percentage numbers for this year to percent numbers for past years certainly suggests a lot of individual voters may have flipped from voting Democratic to voting Republican this year.

But no, that’s not what happened. 

While some individuals who voted for Obama and Clinton undoubtedly did vote Trump in 2020, that was not why Hispanic majority counties like Starr County had significant shifts in their percentage numbers between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. Let’s go back to that paragraph about Starr County in the Texas Observer article and flesh out the percentage and raw number details on what actually happened.

Barack Obama won by 73 points (86% to 13% on 39% turnout) in 2012. Hillary Clinton won by 60 points (79% to 19% on 36% turnout) in 2016. Joe Biden led Trump by just 5 points (52% to 47% on 51% turnout) this year.

Note the differences in turnout between the 2012 and 2016 elections and the 2020 election. Turnout jumped 14.7 points from the 2016 election to 2020 election, plus, Starr county added almost 1,986 registered voters from 2016 to 2020. While Biden received nearly the same vote tally Clinton won in 2016, Trump polled 6,000 more votes in 2020 than he won in 2016. Republicans simply expanded their voting base, they didn’t flip heretofore Democratic voters.

In Zapata County, Trump earned 1,000 more votes in 2020 than he won in 2016, while Biden received 240 fewer votes than Clinton did in 2016. Zapata Co. has 8,252 registered voters.

And that story is repeated up and down the Hispanic majority counties where Trump’s percentage share of the vote increased from 2016 to 2020. 

How could Trump, one of the most virulently anti-immigrant leaders, make inroads with so many Latinos, and along the Mexican border no less? Although the vast majority of people in these counties mark “Hispanic or Latino” on paper, very few residents who are 4th, 5th, and 6th generation Americans commonly use the words “Latino” or Hispanic to describe themselves. They are at once Texans and Americans of Hispanic heritage — proud Tejanos. 

These Hispanic heritage Americans have assimilated, just as the descendants of Irish and Italian immigrants of the 1800s and early 1900s have assimilated, into the great melting pot of American culture. 

Ascribing Trump’s success in South Texas to his campaign winning more of “the Hispanic / Latino vote” makes the same mistake as Democrats have in this election: Treating Hispanics and Latinos as a monolithic voting block focused on new immigrant and dreamer issues rather than common “kitchen table“ concerns like jobs, mortgage payments, and keeping their small business operations running. It was Republican messaging on kitchen table issues that enticed heretofore non-voting Tejanos to register and vote for Donald Trump this year. 

In the end, Trump’s success in motivating Tejano voters in South Texas to had everything to do with not talking to them as Latinos. His campaign spoke to them as assimilated Americans, who have a set of specific concerns—among them, the oil and gas industry jobs, Main Street business support, gun rights and even abortion—amenable to the Republican Party’s positions, and it resonated. To be sure, it didn’t work with all of Texas’ Hispanic heritage Americans; Trump still lost that vote by more than double digits statewide, and Joe Biden won more of the nationwide Hispanic/Latino vote than Hillary Clinton did in 2016.

A key fact to bear in mind while talking about Texas' Hispanic / Latino heritage voters is most don't live in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley counties - they largely live in the state's left-leaning urban / suburban counties.

But Trump proved that seeing specific communities as persuadable voters and offering targeted messaging that resonates with residents of these communities can be more effective than a blanket campaign that treats people as census categories. And in the end, it was enough to keep Florida and Texas in his column. If the Democratic Party’s 2020 postmortem for Texas—indeed, for the whole nation—goes only as far as to try to increase their appeal to “Latinos” as an undifferentiated bloc, they’re going to experience even harsher losses in the next election.

Even so, as Texas Republicans spent precious resources and treasure to run get out the vote operations - they hadn’t felt the need to run in 20 years - Donald Trump still lost the 53 Hispanic majority counties In South Texas by 12 points - 43.3 percent to 55.4 percent. 

While Trump mined 222.6K additional votes over his 2016 vote tally across the 53 Hispanic majority counties, Biden earned 164.9K more votes than Clinton won in 2016. The table below shows the relative aggregate vote shares across these counties for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates has been relatively stable from 2008 through 2020. The exception is 2016 when Trump underperformed McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. Note the 3rd party candidate vote share increased in 2016 while Trump underperformed and Clinton slightly over performed Obama’s 2008 and 2012 performances in slightly higher turnout. Trump’s 2020 performance returned to the level of McCain’s 2008 and Romney’s 2012 performances.

Hisp COs

2008

2012

2016

2020

Rep

566.6K

43.6%

544.3K

42.8%

566.0K

38.5%

788.5K

43.3%

Dem

724.9K

55.7%

712.9K

56.0%

842.4K

57.2%

1.01M

55.4%

Other

9.4K

0.7%

15.7K

1.2%

63.5K

4.3%

24.0K

1.3%

Votes

1.30M

50.0%

1.27M

49.5%

1.47M

52.0%

1.82M

57.7%

% TX Vote


16.1%


15.9%


16.4%


16.2%

Reg Voter

2.60M

19.2%

2.57M

18.9%

2.83M

18.7%

3.16M

18.6%

Presidential Results For Texas' 53 Hispanic Majority Counties

The real story here is that Texas Republicans geared up a targeted in-person door to door canvassing voter registration and get out the vote operation across those counties - they hadn’t bothered to run in 20 years - to increase their share of the vote. While Texas Republicans expanded their raw vote turnout and relative vote share, they did not, for the most part, flip Democratic voters. 

Keep in mind, most of Texas’ Hispanic majority counties still have populations of Anglos as well as very conservative Hispanic-Americans that Republicans could target for registration and GOTV door to door canvassing. 

Keep in mind also, while turnout across those counties increased by 10 to 15 percent From county to county, from 30-something percent to just over 50 percent, those counties still lagged other counties where turnout topped 60 percent and even 70 percent in most other regions. 

With turnout barely topping 50 percent across most of those counties, there are still votes to mine for future elections. The question for Democrats to answer is:

  • Have Republicans mined all last remaining right-leaning voters there are to mine across those counties;
  • Will the “extra” voters they found to turnout for this election vote in future elections when Trump’s name isn’t on the ballot; and
  • Can Democrats re-balance those counties by activating left-leaning non-voters in future elections?

While Republicans heavily engage in in-person campaign activities known to spread the life threatening Covid-19 virus, Democrats decided to not run their usual in-person voter registration and get out the vote events and canvassing operations out of concern those activities would further spread the Covid-19 virus across Texas counties already hard hit by the virus.

In a post election interview, Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa told The Texas Signal:

"Finally, I think the other thing that I truly believe — I don’t know that it would have made a difference for all the elections for the Statehouse and Congress, but I think it would have made a difference in some of the elections — which was, we were not able to do in-person canvassing.

"That put us in a huge disadvantage with the Republican campaigns. They were doing door-knocking for three months.

We didn’t finally break down and just violate the agreements [to not door-knock] that we had with the national party until probably a week to 10 days prior to the election.

I personally felt that hurt us a lot in terms of the margins either that we experienced, or whether or not we would have been able to pick up some more seats. Maybe not the full amount to flip the Texas House, but more than we actually got. I mean, we picked up one seat and lost one statehouse seat.

That was something I had never done before. I’ve been in politics for two-thirds of my life and I had always been involved in campaigns where we did canvassing. This is the first time that we hadn’t.

I just think that really made it very difficult. It’s like we were fighting a boxing match where we’re being pounded, and we could only defend ourselves with one hand because we had the other one tied behind us."

...

Part of our campaign was to make sure that we got into competitive races, that based upon our 2018 experience for the statehouse and for Congress, were races that we thought we could win and ultimately flip the Texas House.

We did what we were supposed to do, but two things happened. We did not flip those statehouse seats for various reasons. But had we not done what we did, we probably would have lost all twelve statehouse seats that we picked up in 2018 and probably would have lost the two congressional seats that we picked up, plus maybe one or two more after that — we certainly would have lost Vicente Gonz├ílez in the Valley, we would have lost Colin Allred in Dallas, we would have lost Lizzie Fletcher in Houston. And probably an additional one.

Based upon the way the dynamics of this actual election occurred, we got ourselves into a position where, unlike a lot of other states, we came out even or maybe a little bit ahead of 2018, even in the sense that we held onto everything we had and improved our margins in the presidential election.

The margins that we improved in Texas exceeded the margins of any of the swing states that were out there, other than Georgia and Arizona.

There was just an enormous upsurge of Trump voters that came out, that had not come out in 2016 and 2018, that came out to save Trump’s presidency.

That’s really what happened here. Even though we came within five and a half points in 2020 (which was more than we had in 2016 percentage-wise) Trump had more votes in 2020 than in 2016 in Texas.

So what happened was that there was just a lot more Trump voters out there than we imagined there was. And they came out in some areas, particularly in areas where we were fighting for those statehouse seats. We encountered this huge increase in Trump voters that substantially helped the Republican’s down-ballot.

The other thing that happened that we thought would be different because of what happened in 2018, is that all these races that we did not win were gerrymandered Republican districts. They were designed to elect Republicans based upon the way they had been drawn.

The 2018 seats that we won, we were able to pick them up because we did not have the Trump factor then, but I think they were tighter districts in terms of margins for Republicans than what you saw for the districts we targeted in 2020.

Without this Trump upsurge factor that came into place, we might have been able to win them. This huge increase in Trump voters made it to where we couldn’t. We did well, just to survive with what we had before.

We thought that because Trump had alienated so many people that was really the reason why you had this huge increase in turnout in Texas. With the early vote, for example, we had more early voters than we had in the entire 2016 cycle — we thought that those voters weren’t going to vote for him and vote for Biden instead because they were sick of Trump’s misbehavior in office. If we organized and we made our contacts and did everything we needed to do, we thought that it was going to help us pull more voters out to win these statehouse seats and congressional races."


Democratic strategist Chuck Rocha talks to Jon Favreau about how the party can improve its performance among Latino voters.

The table below shows the increase or decrease in registration and vote counts from the 2016 election to the 2020 election for each Hispanic majority county. 

The counties highlighted in blue are counties carried by Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020. The Purple highlighted counties are counties won by Clinton in 2016 and Trump in 2020. Trump won the red Hispanic majority counties in 2016 and 2020 - McCain, Romney, and Bush also won these counties.  

Table: Delta change between 2016 and 2018

Hispanic Counties 

% Hisp

2016 2020 Reg Voter Delta

2016 2020 Rep Vote Delta

2016 2020 Dem Vote Delta

2016 2020 3rd Vote Delta

2016 2020 Net Vote  Delta

2016 2020 Turnout  Delta

Aggregate


324,572

222,550

164,867

-39,502

347,915

5.7%

Bexar

59%

144,016

63,538

121,273

-18,417

166,394

7.2%

El Paso

82%

60,151

25,723

20,958

-6,660

40,021

2.1%

Hidalgo

91%

52,747

41,283

8,582

-3,869

45,996

4.9%

Cameron

88%

21,184

19,362

4,330

-2,136

21,556

5.3%

Webb

96%

14,549

12,951

-487

-972

11,492

3.5%

Starr

96%

1,986

6,000

-190

-72

5,738

14.7%

Maverick

96%

2,361

4,065

-2,073

-242

1,750

2.1%

Willacy

87%

498

890

-325

-85

480

2.1%

Zavala

94%

-549

796

228

-41

983

14.9%

Jim Hogg

93%

-142

401

-438

-48

-85

-0.2%

Dimmit

86%

-99

410

91

-60

441

6.6%

Duval

89%

-11

1,126

-210

-34

882

10.6%

Brooks

91%

-907

385

-467

-30

-112

4.6%

Presidio

83%

-17

69

5

-65

9

0.4%

Culberson

76%

-53

135

-16

-22

97

7.0%

Val Verde

80%

1,237

1,949

-563

-586

800

0.7%

Jim Wells

79%

128

1,969

-669

-172

1,128

4.0%

Kleberg

70%

751

1,190

643

-304

1,529

6.0%

Frio

78%

-146

956

-23

-69

864

10.4%

Zapata

93%

612

1,003

-243

-35

725

5.7%

Reeves

74%

455

832

-265

-68

499

3.9%

Lasalle

86%

253

463

-77

-39

347

5.0%

Kenedy

77%

-22

43

-34

-1

8

7.0%

Nueces

61%

12,185

13,701

11,551

-2,673

22,579

7.7%

Uvalde

69%

577

1,325

199

-165

1,359

6.0%

Bee

56%

324

1,255

-164

-171

920

4.7%

Hudspeth

80%

245

268

47

-29

286

8.2%

Pecos

67%

153

745

-176

-91

478

4.8%

San Patricio

54%

1,894

3,465

1,100

-371

4,194

7.4%

Atascosa

62%

2,921

3,402

1,214

-204

4,412

9.9%

Kinney

56%

27

208

-12

-23

173

6.9%

Edwards

51%

-15

147

-137

-19

-9

0.1%

Deaf Smith

67%

231

382

78

-68

392

3.2%

Ector

53%

7,730

7,566

1,061

-740

7,887

5.0%

Crosby

52%

25

215

59

-49

225

5.9%

Crockett

63%

-80

239

-28

-33

178

9.0%

Castro

60%

-106

187

-60

-42

85

3.6%

Hale

56%

-476

796

170

-264

702

4.8%

Dawson

53%

-239

315

-27

-62

226

4.8%

Winkler

54%

196

350

-62

-38

250

3.8%

Floyd

53%

-218

107

2

-33

76

4.7%

Bailey

60%

-175

86

10

-35

61

4.1%

Sutton

60%

-87

147

9

-15

141

7.7%

Crane

55%

-16

198

-58

-21

119

4.8%

Cochran

53%

-6

127

-14

-18

95

5.5%

Moore

53%

328

379

-39

-122

218

0.4%

Parmer

60%

74

218

3

-39

182

3.1%

Lamb

52%

-220

402

64

-67

399

6.3%

Yoakum

59%

237

375

-7

-43

325

4.4%

Reagan

61%

-14

233

5

-18

220

12.1%

Concho

53%

95

173

49

-22

200

7.9%


 

No comments:

Post a Comment