Commentary: NYT story bemoans Democrats losing Latino men

Hispanic support for Democrats dropped by nearly 10% in last year’s elections, and considerably more in Florida and South Texas.

The New York Times’ Jennifer Medina reported extensively Friday on sagging support for Democrats among Latino men.

While surveys show men of Latino descent are more inclined than women to support Republicans, Hispanic immigrants overall — particularly Colombian, Cuban and Venezuelan — moved toward the GOP in 2020.

Former President Donald Trump received a larger percentage of the Latino vote last year (36%) than in 2016 (32%), though still short of President George W. Bush in 2004.

Hispanic support for Democrats dropped by nearly 10% in last year’s elections, and considerably more in Florida and South Texas, which cost Democrats several competitive congressional districts, even in California.

The article tells the political genesis of Sergio Arrelano, a combat veteran, who resides in Phoenix. On leave from the Army when he was 18, Arrelano asked a woman at a voter registration table: What’s the difference between Republicans and Democrats? She claimed Democrats are for the poor; Republicans are for the rich.

“Well, that made it easy — I didn’t want to be poor, I wanted to be rich, so I chose Republican,” Arellano told the newspaper. “Obviously she figured I would identify with the poor. There’s an assumption that you’re starting out in this country, you don’t have any money, you will identify with the poor. But what I wanted was to make my own money.”

Arellano stayed involved, and earlier this year he narrowly lost a bid for Arizona Republican Party chairman. Currently he’s president of Tipping Point LLC, a political consulting firm.

The Times also spoke to Valentin Cortez, an independent who voted for Trump because he “had done better financially under his administration and worried that a government run by President Biden would raise taxes and support policies that would favor the elite.”

Raised around Hispanics in New Mexico, Cortez says he finds the same opportunities as white people, and resents being seen as a minority.

I’ve heard the same rationale from clients who work for the railroad in Arizona, California and Texas.

Medina also relayed the story of a music producer in Florida who, unlike his friends, became a Republican. He believes many people in his hometown who stayed loyal to Democrats remained poor.

“Everybody was a liberal Democrat in my neighborhood, in the Bronx, in the local government,” Erik Ortiz said. “The welfare state was bad for our people — the state became the father in the Black and brown household, and that was a bad, bad mistake. Why would I want to be stuck in that mentality?”

Many interviewees cited support for law enforcement, the military, and limited government as reasons they favor Republicans.

The story explains:

“These men challenged the notion that they were part of a minority ethnic group or demographic reliant on Democrats; many of them grew up in areas where Hispanics are the majority and are represented in government. And they said many Democrats did not understand how much Latino men identified with being a provider — earning enough money to support their families is central to the way they view both themselves and the political world. They watched their friends and relatives go to western Texas to work the oil fields, and worry that new environmental regulations will wipe out the industry there.”

Vice President Kamala Harris and The Squad’s commitment to identity politics also repels many Latinos.

“We haven’t figured out a way to speak to them, to say that we have something for them, that we understand them,” Democrat strategist Joshua Ulibarri told the Times. “They look at us and say: We believe we work harder, we want the opportunity to build something of our own, and why should we punish people who do well?”

One of the nearly 800 comments following the story — clearly from a triggered liberal — reads:

“They are voting against their own interests. How about a living wage? How about a return to the more progressive tax system like we had in the 40s, 50s, 60s? Want to provide for your family? How about more universal healthcare?”

To which someone replied:

“Progressives tend to assume that people who look the same think the same. On immigration they assume that all Hispanic Americans favor policies that encourage pathways to citizenship for people here illegally. It never seems to occur to them that immigrants who played by the rules might dislike people who cut the line.”

Another Latino Democrat summarized thusly:

“The problems the Dems face is they get caught up in nonsense like cultural arguments instead of focusing on things that actually matter to everyday voters. For example: the Dems push for a universal minimum wage of $15/hour regardless of the size of the business. To a Hispanic small business owner running a grocery [store] or a restaurant, forcing the same fixed labor costs on them as we would Amazon or McDonald’s seems insane.”

While the 2,200-word feature aimed to help Democrats understand “what drives Latino men to Republicans,” the GOP should learn how to expand this demographic and add more Latinas. In my wife’s Colombian-American family, views on Trump, for example, run mainly along gender lines.

Now it remains to be determined whether a Nikki Haley, Kristi Noem or Marco Rubio captures more support as future party leader than a Tom Cotton, Ron DeSantis or Josh Hawley.