Hispanics rejecting Democratic Party for GOP over concerns about economy, crime and family values

Hispanic voters across the country appear to be rejecting the Democratic Party for the Republican Party, and many leaders view the shift as a sign of Latino communities’ growing concern for the economy, rising crime and traditional conservative values.

According to a NBC News/Telemundo poll released earlier this week, a shrinking majority of Latino registered voters — 54% — said they preferred Democrats keep control of Congress as a result of the upcoming November midterm elections, down five percentage points since October 2020 and down 13 points since November 2018.

Included in the poll was one statistic that showed Hispanics who identify as conservative favoring Democrats by nine percentage points in 2012, but favoring Republicans by a massive 56% in 2022. The poll also noted that the economy and cost of living were among the top issues for Hispanic voters. Crime was not one of the top issues identified in the poll, but has been a major concern in other surveys.

Fox News Digital spoke to a number of leaders from both parties to get their perspective on the shift, surfacing conflicting views surrounding the change that ranged from Democrats denying that any shift was taking place to celebration among Republicans for making gains with the group.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a Cuban-American representing Florida’s 25th Congressional District, told Fox News Digital that Hispanics now had more in common with the Republican Party because it had become the party of the working middle-class, while the Democratic Party had become the party of the elites.

Diaz-Balart argued that Democratic policies over the past few years had hurt Hispanics particularly bad, specifically the economic shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the soft-on-crime-approaches.

‘The reality is that Hispanics are out there doing the jobs that normal Americans do. Working-class and middle-class Americans, they can’t do those from Zoom. They also don’t tend to live in the secluded, closed-off, gated communities where you can talk about freeing prisoners and decriminalizing acts of violence because they have their private security,’ he said.

‘That’s not real life, and that’s not working and middle-class Americans, which are what most Hispanics are,’ he added.

Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico Jennifer González Colón, who represents the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico as a non-voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives, argued that Hispanic-Americans, as a community now confident in their place in American society, were leaning more towards Republicans because they felt the party’s policies would strengthen that society.

‘Our platform is one of a stronger economy, a better job market, significant crime reduction and affirmation of family values. What changed is that the message, which has always been there, is reaching more communities around America loud and clear, and this community is now more willing to listen to who can offer them a truly better future,’ González Colón told Fox News Digital.

‘One very important consideration is to not take us for granted. Just as the Democrats should not take us for granted on account of minority identity or socioeconomic status, Republicans should not take us for granted on account of religiosity or family links,’ she said.

‘Any party that wants our support needs to hear what are our needs and concerns and show that they understand they are the same other communities have, but can’t be exactly the same,’ she added. 

González Colón went on to stress that the increased Hispanic support for Republicans was proof that fear of admitting Puerto Rico as the 51st state was unnecessary, and that it was time for the party to act on its long-time platform of admitting the territory to the union.

Republican Miami Mayor Francis Suarez also drove home the point that Hispanics wanted to see action taken on the economy and crime and touted the conservative principles that he said had brought success to the residents of his city.

‘What matters most for the Hispanic Community —and for all people, for that matter — is to see their elected officials focusing their time in delivering results in a range of fields, most importantly within our economy, the safety of our streets, and high levels of quality of life—including access to education and high-paying jobs,’ he told Fox News Digital.

‘That’s exactly what we’ve done in Miami. Follow the simple conservative principles of keeping taxes low, keep criminality rates low and being open to innovation, to create high-paying jobs and a high quality of life. Those conservative principles resonate with everyone, including the Hispanic community,’ he said.

Suarez argued that Hispanics wanted leaders who would not add to political divisiveness, but would instead spend time proactively seeking solutions.

‘For years, Democratic leaders misunderstood the Hispanic community as a monolithic one, which it is not. In both parties, for any leader of the future, it would be key to be able to understand this community, the number one minority in the nation, and to be able to speak to them,’ he said.

Veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins declared that there was no other voter group as important to Republicans than Hispanic voters.

‘They are the fastest growing voter group and adding them to the Republican base is critical to the Republicans in many states,’ he said, adding that Latino voters could not be lumped into one group, but they were instead made up of smaller community blocs, such as Cuban-Americans, Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans, that each needed to have their concerns addressed individually. 

‘They can be the difference between Republicans becoming a minority, diminishing White voter group, or a prosperous growing voter group,’ he said.

The results of the NBC News/Telemundo poll continued a trend seen in some previous polls, suggesting the shift could actually be taking place beyond a few outlying sets of data. Election results have also provided further evidence of the shift, such as the victory of Rep. Mayra Flores, R-Texas, over the summer in a special election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District, a traditional Democratic stronghold with a majority Hispanic voting population.

Democrats, however, have pointed to other polling data suggesting the shift might be more regional than national, or that it has already hit its peak. One recent poll in Arizona found that only 38% of Hispanic voters supported the Republican candidate in the state’s ongoing Senate race, and just 32% in supported the GOP nominee for governor.

‘The shift isn’t happening — it already happened in 2020. The GOP put a dent in Latino support for Democrats, but the polling shows that they haven’t built on that progress. Democrats are still up 24 points, which is the same as it was two years ago,’ Democratic strategist and Fox News host Jessica Tarlov said.

Tarlov added that Latino voters were more concerned about issues like inflation, crime and immigration rather than cultural ones, admitting that was an area where Republicans had the advantage, but said there was ‘no evidence’ that Latino support for Democrats would erode any further.

‘Democrats can win back support with a focus on kitchen table issues versus culture wars,’ she said.

Former spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Xochitl Hinojosa also downplayed the potential shift, arguing that Democrats needed to adjust their approach to getting Latino voters out to vote, especially in Republican-controlled states that have passed laws she claimed made it harder for non-White people to vote.

‘It’s not that we’re seeing Latino voters shift from Democrat to Republican, it’s that we’re seeing the need for Democrats to invest more to turn out these voters. And it’s even more critical that Democrats do this in states where Republicans have made it harder for communities of color to vote,’ she told Fox News Digital.

Nicole Morales, a spokeswoman at the Republican National Committee, disagreed, telling Fox News Digital that the reason for the shift was that Democrats had taken Hispanics for granted by advocating for policies that they did not agree with.

‘Democrats have spent decades taking the Hispanic vote for granted while pushing for failed policies on the economy, crime and border that disproportionately hurt Hispanics,’ Morales said. 

‘The Hispanic community is flocking to the Republican Party because our Party shares their values, instead of attacking them,’ she added. ‘The Republican message of freedom, prosperity, and opportunity resonates with all Americans, which is why we will win the Hispanic vote and elect more Hispanic candidates than ever before this November.’ 

Fox News Digital reached out to a number of Democratic elected officials and the DNC for comment on the shift in some Hispanic support from Democrats to Republicans, but did not receive any responses.

Fox News’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.

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