Republicans increased their share of the Latino vote this election cycle without running on comprehensive immigration reforms that would give legal status to undocumented immigrants.
Between 2016 and 2020, President Trump earned 4 additional percentage points more with black voters, the biggest share of the Latino vote of any GOP nominee since 2004, 5 percentage points more with Asian Americans, and the percentage of LGBT people voting for Trump doubled from 2016 to 2020, from 14% to 28%.
For nearly two decades, GOP conventional wisdom dictated the party needed an immigration reform plan to control the flow of immigration at the southern border through enforcement while allowing for unauthorized immigrants to apply for legal status to deliver workers into the U.S. labor market.
Republicans believed more Latinos would turn out to vote for the party if such action was taken, but the legislation, backed by the Chamber of Commerce and suggested by the GOP’s 2012 post-election autopsy following Mitt Romney’s presidential loss, repeatedly failed in Congress when conservatives rallied against the bills in 2006, 2007, and 2013.
Instead, Republicans focused on issues related to far-left Democratic lawmakers’ and candidates’ embrace of socialism and looser immigration laws. Additionally, they highlighted Trump’s economic messages.
In Florida, Trump earned 45% of the Latino vote — an 11-point jump from his 2016 performance. In Texas, 41% to 47% of Latino voters supported Trump in a number of Democratic Hispanic border counties in the Rio Grande Valley area.
In regions of South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, Latinos have jobs in the gas and oil industry, which the Trump campaign told voters Joe Biden would destroy with fracking regulations.
Additionally, many Latinos were turned off by the mass illegal immigration and demonization of the border patrol.
The Republican Party’s anti-socialist message routinely wins support from Florida’s Cuban community, and this year, it targeted the Venezuelan community with that message as well.
Centrist Democrats found themselves fighting GOP messaging that demanded they denounce Democratic socialists in their party, such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This included linking all Democratic candidates to policies such as the Green New Deal and the “Defund the Police” initiative.
“Defund police, open borders, socialism — it’s killing us,” Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat who won reelection with just over 50% of the vote, told the New York Times. “I had to fight to explain all that.”
Gonzalez added, the “average white person” may think socialism has more to do with Nordic countries, but Asian and Hispanic voters link it to tyrannical “left-wing regimes.”