Here’s the two-minute segment.
As I said, good stuff. It is deliberate in presenting the voting bloc as something other than a monolith, pointing out (a bit indirectly) that even communities with large percentages of immigrants tend to vote more like other populations over time. As sociologist Dowell Myers wrote in his book “Immigrants and Boomers,” Americans often have a “naive assumption … that immigrants are like Peter Pan, frozen in time, never changing and always remaining just like new immigrants, rather than becoming older, more settled and more successful citizens.”
As the Pew Research Center noted in 2017, the population of Hispanics in the United States who were born outside the United States has mostly been living here for at least a decade.
Perhaps more importantly, the children of those Hispanic immigrants are less likely to even see themselves as Hispanic. The first generation of children born in the United States to Hispanic immigrants is likely to identify as Hispanic less heavily than their parents. Their grandchildren are about as likely as not to identify with that ethnic group. It’s hard to parse out how that overlaps with politics, but it reinforces the central point: Identity varies.
What would I add to Todd’s segment?
First, that it presents the increased density of Hispanics in the United States as something rather sudden. For example, Todd at one point notes that 20 states have counties in which at least 30 percent of the population is Hispanic. That’s true … but in 2010, 18 did. In the most recent Census Bureau data, only Minnesota and Nevada (!) were added to the total. In each case, there is only one county in the state that hits that threshold.
Todd presented this bit of data under the headline “New Power Players,” which outlets like Axios described as depicting “Hispanics’ rising power.” This seems to overstate the recent shift in the electorate. In 2016, according to Pew’s validated survey of the electorate, Hispanics made up 10 percent of the electorate. In 2020, that figure was the same. According to Census Bureau data (adjusted for data gaps by the University of Florida’s Michael McDonald), the increase was from 9.1 to 10.6 percent. In 2012, it was 8.3 percent.
Presenting the increase in the density of Hispanic voters in the electorate tends to reinforce narratives like the one promoted by Fox News’s Tucker Carlson that suggests some imminent threat to White Americans. Other research from Myers showed that White Republicans in particular reacted to news reports about the likelihood of an eventual non-White majority with anger and anxiety when it was presented as a zero-sum assessment of cultural power instead of focusing on likely assimilation.
The second thing that’s worth adding to Todd’s segment is the uncertainty about the shifts seen in 2020. It was the case, as I’ve written, that there was a shift to the right among Hispanic voters in the last election. You can see that in Pew’s analysis of the vote in the last three federal elections. Hispanic support for the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 was seven points lower than 2016. Support for the Republican — Donald Trump — increased by 10 points.
That shift was larger among Hispanics without college degrees, an echo of the support Trump saw from Whites without degrees. Analysis from the firm Equis Labs suggested that this might be in a part a function of the decline of the salience of immigration in last year’s election. Without immigration as a central point of debate for much of the campaign — subsumed by the debate over race and policing and, of course, the pandemic and the economy — it provided more opportunity for Trump to gain ground.
One of the central questions of the past five years, though, is how much the results of the two elections in which Trump was a candidate was a function of his being on the ballot. Notice the bounce-back among Hispanic voters in 2018, with Trump not running. Equis Labs’s analysis suggested that low-turnout Hispanics might have come out to vote for Trump when they normally wouldn’t have cast a ballot, again mirroring low-turnout Whites. If they stay home again in 2022, how does that change our expectations about the Hispanic vote?
That’s the question that sits under Todd’s assessments of 2020. Were those shifts to the right ephemeral? Overstated last year? A function very specifically of Trump’s message and personality? It’s hard to say.
Again, Todd’s broader point is a useful one. Assumptions that Hispanic voters are now and will in the future be uniformly and unwaveringly Democratic are overly simple. So might be any assumptions that Hispanic voters will continue to move inexorably to the right.