Although he lost his reelection bid, President Trump saw his support among Hispanic voters grow by about four points nationally over his 2016 performance, winning the backing of about a third of these voters, according to exit polls. Plenty of evidence points to the extreme position on abortion embraced by Democrats as a primary cause of the shift.
As “pro-life for the whole life” Democrats, we worry that this shift could intensify in future elections, especially for Republican candidates with positions on immigration more moderate than Trump’s.
Abundant polling confirms the importance of abortion to Hispanic voters — especially Hispanic Catholics.
In the election just concluded, Trump made the strongest gains among Hispanic communities dominated by recent immigrants and religious voters. At a localized level, Biden suffered stunning drops in Hispanic support across the nation compared to vote totals Hillary Clinton received four years ago: 9 points in El Paso County in Texas, 19 points in Texas’ Cameron County, 23 points in Texas’ Hidalgo County, and 23 points in the overwhelmingly Hispanic Miami-Dade County in Florida.
In Starr County in Texas there was a remarkable 55-point swing from Clinton in 2016 to Trump in 2020.
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Bordering Mexico, Starr County is 96% Hispanic, dominated by Mexican Americans, as well as 75% Catholic. Starr County’s Republican Party chair attributed the dramatic swing in the small rural county at least in part to the fact that the county is “very pro-life.”
If Starr County’s Hispanic Catholics are anything like those nationwide, almost one in three say they will only vote for a candidate who shares their pro-life views.
The simplest explanation for Clinton voters becoming Trump voters this year? Democrats brought the most extreme abortion platform in history to America’s most pro-life demographic group.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris of California — now president-elect and vice president-elect — have promised taxpayer-funded abortion on demand. The official Democratic Party platform, moreover, makes zero mention of any restrictions or regulations on abortions.
Hispanic Americans are overwhelmingly pro-life. They are the only ethnicity that believes abortion should be mostly or always illegal, as well as the only ethnicity to have become more pro-life in the past five years.
President Trump knows this, which is why he campaigned aggressively on a pro-life message among Latino voters.
Polling shows the effectiveness of pro-life messaging with Hispanic voters. In 2014, the Texas Gubernatorial Project found that just one pro-life video advertisement could shift Hispanic voters 13 points away from a pro-choice Democrat to a pro-life Republican.
Of course, it’s difficult to generalize about a population as diverse as Hispanic Americans. Undoubtedly, the GOP’s message of the “socialist” threat posed by the Biden-Harris campaign resonated with Cuban Americans. At the same time, that explanation can’t account for the even wilder swing seen among Mexican Americans in Texas.
The most straightforward explanation is that values matter. Hispanic voters aren’t blind to the abortion extremism in the Democratic Party platform. The huge gap between their values and those represented in the Democratic platform matter.
We’re delighted that President-elect Biden will usher in a return to humane immigration policies, action on climate change, and will work to heal systemic racism.
But we worry about the future of the Democratic Party. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., was right when she said that “when it comes to Latinos the party’s just never seriously made an effort.”
The Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood have been pitching losing rhetoric — not actual policies — to Hispanic voters for years.
This rhetoric is disturbing: it holds that it’s not enough that Latinas are twice as likely to have an abortion as White women. We’re told that the ratio needs to be even higher, in the name of addressing “health disparities” in abortion access.
Hispanic leaders have spoken out loud and clear against Planned Parenthood’s targeting of their community.
When it comes to abortion, the Democratic Party pays lip service to “intersectionality” by lauding BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) reproductive health leaders and pledging to address the gap in access to abortion.
But the truth is that the Democratic Party can only win these voters back by listening. And when it does listen, it might not like what these voters have to say.
Xavier Bisits is national operations director of Democrats for Life.