TLC Latino Republicans Push Back on Party's Immigration Agenda

“BACK TO THE FUTURE”: 2022 back to 2004 , 2020 forward to 2024

by Vernon Lance Tarrance April 21, 2023

(PART 1)

The 2024 Presidential election has already started and the major candidates are making key visits to the Primary states, like New Hampshire and Iowa, as we speak. History seems to indicate that the Hispanic vote is finally hitting the third stage of political assimilation in the U. S. electorate. The first two stages, political identity and political socialization, are in our rearview mirror now. The third stage can be rephrased as, “Which Hispanic voter wants to turn out for the election?”. That stage is mobilization and from the 2024 election on, that will be the new game. There are two ways to look at this new political mobilization: what we’ve learned from the past and what we think the next future will look like. George W. Bush was reelected in 2004 by announcing in his message advertising that “a new day has arrived”, when speaking to Hispanic voters. Thus, the so-called “next future” will involve political mobilization, no longer just political consciousness. In the recent 2022 midterm election In Texas, Governor Abbott was reelected and his message to the Hispanic vote was “we have planted our flag in South Texas.

In essence, we need to find out what George W. Bush did to get such a comparatively high vote total and then take measure of the new political occupation of the Republican Party in South Texas. What follows are key excerpts from an article that Patrick Ruffini (coincidentally, Patrick is part of the TLC research team that helped execute an award-winning sample design for political research) wrote on April 19, 2023, which was titled, “What Donald Trump can learn from George W. Bush about winning Hispanic voters“.

Excerpts from What We Have Learned From George W. Bush About Winning Hispanic Voters:

“…A big part of Trump’s near-win in 2020 was his surprising strength among Hispanics—the same group he ranted about “bringing drugs, bringing crime” in his 2016 announcement speech. He surged in places like Miami-Dade County, giving him the advantage in Florida, and in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

But Trump’s showing, impressive though it was, was not the high-water mark for Republicans and the Hispanic vote in the modern era. George W. Bush earned an eye-popping 44 percent of the Hispanic vote according to the 2004 exit poll, topping Donald Trump’s 36 percent in 2020 in AP VoteCast survey, the more reliable of the two modern exit polls…”

“…When viewed on a longer time horizon, Trump’s 2020 performance seems more a bit less impressive and more of a return to the normal trendline—perhaps one that will presage Republicans performing above-trend for the next few cycles, perhaps not. George W. Bush likely did better than Trump among Hispanics in both of his elections. But Trump gets credit for lifting the party out of its 2008-16 trough, which seems to have been caused at least in part by immigration politics. The key ingredient was Trump downplaying immigration in 2020, while also elevating a brand of all-out culture war politics elsewhere that was more appealing to Hispanics than the buttoned-down establishment politics of John McCain or Mitt Romney. But, nonetheless, the all-time Republican champion of winning over Hispanic voters remains…George W. Bush…”

“…When George W. Bush was making the case that he could be the Republicans’ savior after two terms of being thoroughly outmatched politically by Bill Clinton, he pointed to his success with Hispanic voters in Texas, whom he split evenly as part of a rousing 1998 re-election victory with 69 percent of the vote. In a party less diverse than it is today, “Viva Bush” signs sprouted up at Republican rallies. Bush made a point of speaking Spanish and famously said that “family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande,”…His first event upon arriving at the 2000 Republican convention was aimed squarely at Hispanics. An ad made for Bush’s 2004 campaign—copied directly from an ad Jeb Bush had run in Florida—showed a sequence of flags for various Latin American countries blended into an American flag…Over a fast-moving shot of a city skyline and an American flag rippling in front of the Texas state banner, a deep-voiced man reassures: “En nuestro pais ha llegado un nuevo dia.” (In our country, a new day has arrived).

 

The narrator continues in Spanish about Gov. George W. Bush’s family values in a 30-second TV commercial that features good-looking students, scientists and cheerleaders who could presumably benefit from his presidency. The spot concludes with the Republican candidate, wearing a cotton work shirt and jeans, saying four words: “Es un nuevo dia…”

“…When it comes to the Hispanic political battleground, there are three regions: Florida, Texas and the Southwest. Yes, there are Hispanic voters elsewhere, but they are either a small percentage of their respective states or are located in states (New York, Illinois) not in danger of flipping at the presidential level…”

“…In Texas, we’ve read a lot about Trump’s surge along the Rio Grande Valley. And in some counties, like rural Starr and Zapata Counties, the surge was an epic one, with a 55 point swing in Starr County, once the most Democratic and machine-driven in the country.

 

But, using a starting point in 2004, the story becomes one of urban-rural polarization. Trump did better than Bush in rural counties and worse in urban counties, and because the population here is more urban than rural, Trump did worse overall. While Bush lost the Hispanic majority counties in the state by 10 points, Trump lost them by 21.

 

Here we need to account for Bush’s favorite son status, though. Bush won his home state by 23 points in 2004 while Trump only won it by 6. Hispanic voters have become much more integral to the Republican coalition since then, leaning more to the right relative to the state as a whole…”

(PART 2)

After looking at how George W. Bush maximized his Hispanic votes, we need to take a look now at how the 2022 midterm elections stood out since the Republicans put a “full court press” on the Democrats. Once again, as Gov. Abbott said, “We’ve placed our flag on the ground in South Texas”. The subtext is that the Hispanic vote is up for grabs and the Republicans are hungry.

Breaking Down the GOP’s Performance in South Texas: 18 years later

Republicans made a historic push to win voters in the Rio Grande Valley. They won a few key races but came short of their goal. So, how did they really perform on the border?

Texas Scorecard | David Vasquez | November 11, 2022

Excerpts from the above article on the Republican performance in South Texas by the Texas Scorecard show the Republican Party made large gains but still have much work to do:

“…When considered against a backdrop of such big proclamations as a Republican sweep in South Texas, this statement might appear true, but the truth is Republicans finally won some key victories in the region and overall received their best performance in the region. Celebrating his victory in McAllen, Abbott proclaimed, “We planted our flag in South Texas, and we showed America that South Texas is now electing Republicans to office in our great state.

 

Breaking down the GOP’s performance in South Texas, let’s first take a look at their wins.

 

Republican Monica De La Cruz won her race for Congressional District 15, defeating Democrat Michelle Vajello by 53 percent to 44 percent…”

“…In state House races, Republicans won two RGV seats. State Rep. Ryan Guillen (R–Rio Grande City) won his race for re-election by a massive margin of over than 40 points. Guillen, a former Democrat, made headlines last year when he switched parties and became a Republican. He also won Starr County with over 70 percent. Joining him in the House will be State Rep.-elect Janie Lopez (R), a school board member from San Benito who won her race for the open seat in House District 37 left by outgoing State Rep. Alex Dominguez (D–Brownsville). She defeated her Democrat opponent 52 percent to 48 percent. Lopez is the first Republican to represent the district comprising Cameron and Willacy counties. While her victory was made easier by redistricting, she still won in a district President Biden would have won by 2 points.

 

Lastly, former State Rep. Aaron Peña (R) won his race for justice on the 13th Court of Appeals. Peña flipped his seat and, as a result, the Edinburg-based appellate court will now be split between three Republicans and three Democrats. Peña won 52 percent to 48 percent. The court hears appeals from both criminal and civil cases in 20 counties, including Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy…”

“…In sum, the data demonstrates Republican improvement in South Texas. This improvement is short of the lofty goals the party set , but the indication is that in South Texas, specifically in the Rio Grande Valley, the Republican Party has staying power and is here to compete and win.

 

After a surge in GOP support in the 2020 general election, Republicans won their first races in the region and met or exceeded their overall performances county to county. The data suggests the GOP has new thresholds and that while the region is still blue, it is no longer the Democrat stronghold it used to be.

 

To that end, Republicans have indicated they are in South Texas for the long fight. Rep. Mayra Flores indicated she intends to run again in 2024…”

BOTTOM LINE

The following graph shows where Republicans were almost 20 years ago, with Geo. W. Bush , and where they are now trending back up again. The graph says it all.

“…ecological inference can be useful for validating trends, and the results in counties where Hispanics were a majority of the vote in 2020 confirm that 2004 was indeed a high-water mark for Republicans with Hispanic voters…”

 

–Patrick Ruffini

NEW TREND Graph by Patrick Ruffini, April 19, 2023,What Donald Trump can learn from George W. Bush about winning Hispanic voters”, The Intersection.

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