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Hispanic Voters Give Democrats Another Majority

By Manuel Galván

Although the White House pendulum swings between political parties, Hispanic majorities have backed the Democratic candidate for decades. Like a family, there have been favorites, differences and suitors.

President John Kennedy was embraced by Mexican Americans. He was Catholic and spoke well of Latin America. It was common in their homes, next to a crucifix, and even in restaurants to see framed drawings of the three, Kennedy brothers. They were profiled, looking toward the future.

At the same time, Cuban Americans shunned Kennedy for Republicans. Expats had mounted an invasion to take Cuba back from Fidel Castro. They landed on the beach in the Bay of Pigs and were overwhelmed, waiting for promised U.S. air strikes that never came.

Hispanics have served and serve on both sides of the aisle. In 1983, Tony Bonilla, retiring president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), told a campaign audience in Chicago about Latinos being courted by both parties.

“When they woo you before an election, it’s like the Elvis Presley record, ‘Love Me Tender, love me true. Never let me go.’ Then after they win, they play the flip side, ‘You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog.’”

President Ronald Regan was reelected the following year with more than a third of the Hispanic vote going Republican, a bit more than he received in 1980.

That roughly third ratio of Latinos voting for Republican presidential candidates and two thirds for Democrats has played out through the last century, based on Pew Research Center data. A notable break out was President Bill Clinton, reelected in 1996 with 72 percent of Hispanics backing him.

Latinos hit a milestone in 2003, officially declared the nation’s largest minority group by the U.S. Census Bureau. The following year, they helped reelect President George W. Bush with 40 percent of their votes.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008 and upped it to 71 percent in 2012.

Although she notched 65 percent of the Latino vote, Hillary Clinton still lost to President Donald Trump in 2016 with Hispanics moving to the right for him.

Despite the head scratching about Latinos supporting Trump this year, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, according to the American Election Eve Poll.

A strong majority of Latino voters favored Biden over Trump in every state as well as the District of Columbia, America’s Voice noted.

With all the diversity within the Hispanic population, it’s unlikely to landslide for Democrats, like Blacks who gave Biden 89 percent of their vote. Latinos were crucial to both parties in races up and down the ticket in every state.

Hispanics have proven they can swing an election, especially moving forward. A record 32 million Latinos are eligible to vote, a youthful growing population. Both parties would be wise to do major outreach. If they want an Elvis song as background, perhaps they should play “It’s Now Or Never.”

This article by Manuel Galvan, President of Vantage Point Marketing, was originally published in Hispanic Marketing 101, November 24, 2020.

Manuel Galván is president of Vantage Point Marketing, a strategic consulting firm whose clients include elected officials and political candidates. He is also a founding member and past president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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