It’s not every day that a politician’s gaffe perfectly encapsulates his or her party’s growing separation from a community that has been a vital part of its electoral coalition. But Dr. Jill Biden made exactly such a misstep on Tuesday when she said Hispanics in the United States were as “distinct as the bogidas of the Bronx” (meaning to say “bodegas”) and as ” unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio.”
Wow. Univision spent a whole segment denouncing the speech that same day. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists responded in a tweet : “We are not tacos.”
No wonder Hispanic voters are shifting so rapidly from their traditional Democratic home to the Republican Party. Already, a series of local and national elections in South Texas have confirmed this trend. But one of the first people to notice it was Democratic strategist Ruy Teixeira, co-author of the political classic The Emerging Democratic Majority. When he co-authored this book with John Judis in 2002, the two envisioned a Democratic-dominated future based on a political coalition of upscale professionals plus racial and ethnic minorities.
What he has noticed in the time since then is that typically conservative Hispanic attitudes are really starting to show up in election results.
Teixeira examined several of these attitudes last week in a lengthy blog post . One after another, he compared reactions to various statements in surveys by self-described “very progressive” voters versus Hispanics. For example, when given a choice between “America is not the greatest country in the world” and “America is the greatest country in the world,” voters who describe themselves as “strong progressives” agree with the former, 66% to 28%, whereas Hispanics say the opposite, 23% to 70%. Incredibly, there is just 1 percentage point of daylight between “working-class” voters and Hispanics on that question.
The striking similarity extends to several other cultural questions as well. Hispanics’ overwhelming rejection of the idea of “systemic racism” (58%) almost exactly mirrored that of working-class voters as a whole (57%).
Whether the issue is transgenderism (they’re strongly against it), funding for police departments (they’re strongly for it), or the belief that hard work generates success in one’s personal life (they strongly espouse it), Hispanics, again and again, look just like the “working class” in their attitudes and not at all like “progressives.”
Even when they aren’t identical to “working class” attitudes, Hispanic attitudes remain vastly different from those of “strong progressives.” On immigration, for example, 97% of “strong progressives” favor easier immigration over tougher enforcement. Hispanics are evenly divided on the question, 44% to 47%.
As Teixeira puts it, “strong progressives clearly live in a different world than Hispanic and working class voters.” That’s putting it mildly.
This has him worried about a Democratic Party that is obsessively attempting to contest this year’s election on just three issues: abortion, gun control, and a riot on Capitol Hill that took place over 16 months ago.
The fact is, while Democrats have spent the past 10 years screaming at the top of their lungs that Republicans are racists, Republicans have been building a multiethnic coalition of culturally conservative voters. Indeed, Democratic congressional candidates are now more likely to win the votes of white voters with a college education than they are of Hispanic voters and those without a college education, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll. The party of unions and blue-collar workers has become the party of the privileged and affluent.
Democrats have shaken off all pretense of moderation. They have insulted and, in some cases, expelled their centrist members. And they now risk losing Hispanic voters the same way they lost so many Irish and Italian Democratic families in the 1970s era of “acid, amnesty, and abortion” — by treating them like votes they deserve rather than votes they have to earn.
Reporting by The Washington Examiner.