In Defying the Odds, we talk about the social and economic divides that enabled Trump to enter the White House. In Divided We Stand, we discuss how these divides played out in 2020.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Democrats have seriously erred by lumping Hispanics in with “people of color” and assuming they embraced the activism around racial issues that dominated so much of the political scene in 2020, particularly in the summer. This was a flawed assumption. The reality of the Hispanic population is that they are, broadly speaking, an overwhelmingly working class, economically progressive, socially moderate constituency that cares above all, about jobs, the economy and health care.
For example, in the post-election wave of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group (VSG) panel survey, well over 70 percent of Hispanic voters rated jobs, the economy, health care and the coronavirus as issues that were “very important” to them. No other issues even came close to this level. Crime as an issue rated higher with these voters than immigration or racial equality, two issues that Democrats assumed would clear the path to big gains among Hispanic voters.
Consistent with this, Latino voters evinced little sympathy with the more radical demands that came to be associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. In VSG data, despite showing support for some specific policing reforms, Hispanics opposed defunding the police, decreasing the size of police forces and the scope of their work and reparations for the descendants of slaves by 2:1 or more. The findings about relatively positive Hispanic attitudes toward police have been confirmed by poll after poll, as concern about crime in their communities has spiked.