Further diminishing the left’s desire to “turn Texas blue,” trends show that Latino voters in the Lone Star State are increasingly voting Republican. Texas is the state with the second-largest Latino population, and Republicans there made a significant effort to reach out to these folks prior to the 2014 midterm elections. Such efforts appear to have paid off.
Attorney General Greg Abbott steamrolled State Senator Wendy Davis in the state’s gubernatorial race. According to the New York Times, Abbott received 44 percent of the Hispanic vote while Davis received 55 percent. This marks a notable uptick in Hispanics opting for the Republican candidate in Texas gubernatorial races — in 2010, Governor Rick Perry won votes from just 38 percent of the Latino population.
The Davis campaign largely attributed the lack of Democrat Hispanic votes to low turnout. Matt Angle, a Davis supporter who heads the left-leaning group Lone Star Project told the Houston Chronicle, “As Democrats we didn’t turn out enough new Latino voters. In fact, you had fewer Latino voters vote then had voted in the past.”
It is unlikely, however, that low turnout was the only reason that Democrats performed so poorly with respect to Latino voters this election. “Wendy Davis lost considerable ground among Latinos compared to last cycles,” Gary Segura, a co-founder of the research firm Latino Decisions, told KWBU. “We had found [former Houston Mayor] Bill White receiving a much higher share of the Latino vote in a previous election in 2010 and we know that Abbott did make some concerted effort to campaign to Latino voters.”
Texas Senator John Corynyn also won a significant chunk of Hispanic voters: 48 percent, according to the Chronicle. His campaign manager, Brendan Steinhauser, called that margin “unprecedented.”
Latinos appear to have shifted towards supporting Republican candidates for a wide array of reasons.
Latino Decisions surveyed 4,200 likely Hispanic voters on election day. The group found that in Texas, most Latino voters classify immigration as the issue they care most about. That is followed by the economy and education. A significant portion of those surveyed — about 30 percent — said they “generally agree with the Republican Party on most issues.”
Given the recent trends among Latino voters in the Lone Star State, Battleground Texas and other Democratic groups will likely be forced to shift tactics in order to transform Texas into a swing state.
Follow Kristin on Twitter @KristinBTate.