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America’s next electoral shift?

The Democratic Party’s hard move to the left isn’t pleasing many Hispanics

A man walks past an early voting poll site in San Antonio for the Texas primary in February. Associated Press/Photo by Eric Gay (file)

America’s next electoral shift?
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In what might foretell a political earthquake, a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows that Hispanics, long a voting block that favored Democrats, now favor Republicans. Another survey, this time by The New York Times and Sienna College shows Republicans and Democrats tied among Hispanics. The same survey in 2018 showed Democrats with a 47 percentage point advantage. Working-class Latinos are crossing the aisle and voting red. In 2020, though President Donald Trump narrowly lost reelection to Joe Biden, he made enormous gains in places like the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and Miami. This is why liberal groups are increasingly nervous and in one case buying up conservative Hispanic radio stations throughout Florida.

This shifting of the political map, once thought impossible by both major political parties only a decade ago, reflects the growing divide in the electorate along cultural and political lines. Hispanics are often more religious than the general population and more conservative on issues such as the sanctity of human life. The Democratic Party’s rapid and hard shift to the left on gender and sexuality, along with the growing economic pain brought on by higher gas prices and inflation on housing and key consumer goods, has blue-collar America rejecting the party that used to be the champion of America’s working classes. And COVID-19 policies, which disproportionately affected the working class, helped advance this new political sorting. This has Republicans running a diverse set of candidates across the country in a bid to retake Congress.

We are witnessing a political disruption that should cause us to examine previously held electoral shibboleths. The first, held by both parties, is that “demography is destiny.” The Democratic Party built its electoral strategy on this, pouring money into places like Texas in vain hopes that an emerging Hispanic majority would vote blue. The Republican Party, smarting from losing the 2012 presidential election, released an autopsy that essentially ratified the Democrats’ wish-casting. The second shibboleth is related. It’s echoed by some on the right who fear an increasingly diverse electorate. The “Great Replacement Theory,” as it’s often called, says that immigration hurts conservatives by only bringing into the country voters who are bound to vote blue. Both shibboleths are wrong for the same reason: Diverse immigrant communities are rarely monolithic.

Often those who risk everything to escape tyranny and come to America have a high appreciation for liberty and the freedom to worship, sometimes valuing what makes our country great more than those of us born here.

Conservatives like myself, who have concerns about a coarsening culture, who are worried about the effect of the gender and sexual revolution on our children, and who favor a culture of life, then, should see many immigrants who enter our nation legally as allies, not adversaries. Often those who risk everything to escape tyranny and come to America have a high appreciation for liberty and the freedom to worship, sometimes valuing what makes our country great more than those of us born here.  In many cases, especially in urban communities, it is the vibrant and orthodox immigrant faith that is a bulwark against evangelical temptations toward capitulation to culture. Shifting voting patterns are also a rebuke, of sorts, to the assumption by many elites, shaped by the Berkeley faculty lounge, that nonwhite populations are there to ratify their leftwing ideologies.

Immigration, of course, is a complicated subject, and the diverse coalition of newly voting GOP rightly is concerned about unstable border policies. The Biden administration’s confusing mishmash of border policies has not made us safer, and America’s immigration policies are broken. It’s good and right for America to have a strong and impenetrable border and to control the flow of those who enter the country. America, whose Statue of Liberty beckons, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” nevertheless can’t take all the world’s vulnerable populations. At the same time, we are strengthened by the addition of immigrants who come to be a part of the American dream.

We can all agree that our current immigration system is deeply flawed. But the political left must be waking up to the reality that their assumption that the immigrants they thought would become the new Democratic Party base has turned out to be … off base.

Daniel Darling

Daniel Darling is director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a bestselling author of several books, including The Original Jesus, The Dignity Revolution, The Characters of Christmas, The Characters of Easter, and A Way With Words. He is also the host of a popular weekly podcast, The Way Home. Dan holds a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Dayspring Bible College, has studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Angela have four children.

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