“…the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans, or puts detainees, undocumented workers in cages. They think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion”
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Confounding Democrats across America, President Trump made big gains in the Latino community on Election Day in states like Florida and Texas, vastly improving his 2016 performance with them.
The data doesn’t lie, as Politico explains:
Despite four years of being defined as a racist for his rhetoric and harsh immigration policies, Trump improved his margins in 78 of the nation’s 100 majority-Hispanic counties. And he did better with Latinos in exit polls of each of the top 10 battleground states, a POLITICO review of election data found.
Joe Biden still won Latino voters overall. But as post-election data trickles in, Democrats are growing concerned. Trump’s notable gains weren’t limited to Miami’s Cuban Americans or border-region Tejanos. Although Florida and Texas stood out for the notable shift, Puerto Ricans as far away as Philadelphia and Mexican Americans in Milwaukee drifted Trump-ward.
Trump’s numbers in Florida and southern Texas are particularly noteworthy:
But in Texas, 41 percent to 47 percent of Hispanic voters backed Trump in several heavily Latino border counties in the Rio Grande Valley region, a Democratic stronghold. In Florida, Trump won 45 percent of the Latino vote, an 11-point improvement from his 2016 performance.
There are many reasons for Trump’s improved standing with a voting bloc that has long been crucial to Democrat wins at the state and national levels. We’ll get into those in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at how former President Barack Obama tried to explain away Trump’s gains.
In an interview to promote his new book “A Promised Land,” Obama told the New York City-based “Breakfast Club” radio program Wednesday that Hispanic voters who went for Trump ignored his allegedly racist rhetoric and instead supported him because he was pro-life and against gay marriage:
“Those of us who live in DC or New York or LA,” Obama argued, sometimes lack “a good enough sense of how big this country is and how a lot of folks do not accept at all” policies that people living in larger metropolitan areas take for granted.
The former president turned to the topic of Hispanics who voted for Trump as an example.
“People were surprised about a lot of Hispanic folks who voted for Trump, but there’s a lot of evangelical Hispanics who, you know, the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans, or puts detainees, undocumented workers in cages. They think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion,” he explained.
While Trump is indeed pro-life, gay marriage was never a focal point of his 2016 presidential campaign, nor did he make it an issue during his presidency.
So with that in mind, on what did Obama base his claims? He didn’t say, but it’s a safe bet to guess that the basis for his remarks came out of the same old Democratic playbook that almost always boils down Republican gains among key voting groups to some form of bigotry or ignorance, because minorities who vote for Republicans couldn’t possibly be rejecting the Democratic Party for legitimate reasons, right?
Contrary to what Obama told the Breakfast Club hosts, the Hispanic voters who pulled the lever for Trump and other Republicans in down-ballot races did so because they rejected the Democrat messaging on socialism, defunding the police, and job-killing initiatives like the Green New Deal:
“Most Latinos identify first as working-class Americans, and Trump spoke to that,” said Josh Zaragoza, a top Democratic data specialist in Arizona, adding that Hispanic men in particular “are very entrepreneurial. Their economic language is more aligned with the way Republicans speak: pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, owning your own business.”
And then there’s the way the left spoke — or were framed by Trump’s campaign for speaking. Calls to “defund the police,” a boycott of Goya Foods and the threat of socialism turned off some Latino voters. And even using the term Latinx to describe Latinos in a way that’s gender-neutral only served to puzzle many Hispanics.
“What Trump did is understand the basic values of Hispanics,” said [Rep. Henry] Cuellar, a conservative [Texas] Democrat who survived a primary challenge by the Justice Democrats group that helped propel Ocasio-Cortez to Congress. He said Latinos along the border are deeply patriotic, pro-business and favor fossil fuel development because of the jobs it brings, he said. Oil industry jobs and law enforcement were the top two issues Republicans ran on.
And though Joe Biden won the majority of votes in El Paso, Texas, Trump did better with voters there than he did in 2016, despite high-profile Texas Democrats like Beto O’Rourke blaming Trump for the August 2019 El Paso mass shooting that killed 23 and injured 23.
What happened in the areas Trump did better in is that a growing number of Hispanic-Americans rejected Democratic identity politics and instead voted on kitchen table issues that are important to a cross-section of Americans like jobs and keeping their neighborhoods safe.
Beyond Obama reaching for the tiresome “bigoted” crutch Democrats often use to explain away political shifts they don’t understand, what was really offensive about what the former president did in his remarks about the Latino voters who supported Trump was that he essentially accused them of being willing to sell out their own communities because of social issues like abortion and gay marriage.
This is not unlike how black voters and female voters are treated when they vote for Republicans. Democrats like Obama never stop to think that those voters could have legitimate disagreements with their party that have nothing to do with being backwards or wanting to live in a different time. They just fall back on the “bigotry” card because it’s all they have left.
A question minority voters need to ask themselves in future elections is this: Just who are the real bigots here? The party that says you should only think and vote a certain way (remember Biden’s “you ain’t black” comments?) or the party that encourages you to think for yourself and then decide?
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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