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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Address Decline in Support by Voters of Color

In his New York Times column, Thomas B. Edsall explores the reasons why “Democrats Are Anxious About 2022 — and 2024,” and writes, “In the wake of the 2020 election, Democratic strategists are worried — very worried — about the future of the Hispanic vote. One in 10 Latinos who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 switched to Donald Trump in 2020.” Edsall notes further,

Public Opinion Strategies, which conducts surveys for NBC News/Wall Street Journal, provided me with data on presidential voting from 2012 to 2020 that show significant Republican gains among the roughly 30 percent of Black and Hispanic voters who self-identify as conservative.

From 2012 to 2020, Black conservatives shifted from voting 88-7 for the Democratic candidate to 76-17. Black conservative allegiance to the Democratic Party fell by less, from 75 percent Democratic, 9 percent Republican to 71 percent Democratic, 16 percent Republican.

The changes in voting and partisan allegiance, however, were significantly larger for self-identified Hispanic conservatives. Their presidential vote went from 49-39 Democratic in 2012 to 67-27 Republican in 2020. Their partisan allegiance over the same period went from 50-37 Democratic to 59-22 Republican.

It’s not only Latino voters, as Edsall explains:

The 2020 expansion of Republican voting among Hispanics and Asian-Americans — and to a lesser extent among African-Americans — deeply concerns the politicians and strategists seeking to maintain Democratic control of the House and Senate in 2022, not the mention the White House in 2024.

The defection of Hispanic voters, together with an approximately 3 point drop in Black support for Joe Biden compared with Hillary Clinton, threatens a pillar of Democratic competitive strength, especially among Black men: sustained high margins of victory among minority voters whose share of the population is enlarging steadily.

Edsall goes on to probe what political opinion data shows regarding racial self-identification and differences by age among voters of color and he writes, “The increased level of support for the Republican Party among minority voters has raised the possibility that the cultural agenda pressed by another expanding and influential Democratic constituency — well-educated, young activists with strongly progressive views — is at loggerheads with the socially conservative beliefs of many older minority voters — although liberal economic policies remain popular with both cohorts. This social and cultural mismatch, according to some observers, is driving a number of minority voters into the opposition party.”

Although even a modest decline of support for Democrats among these voters is cause for concern, the overwhelming majority of voters of color supported Biden and Democratic candidates for senate and congress in 2020 and 2021. If Biden’s covid relief package leads to a solid recovery, Democrats will have reason to hope for an uptick in their support in 2022 and 2024. If the Biden administration is able to secure significant reductions in their unemployment rates, Democrats could do even better.

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