Latin vote
Latino support for Trump more widespread than previously believed, data shows
The analysis, which was conducted by the Democratically-aligned research firm Equis Labs, found that "in 2020, a segment of Latino voters demonstrated more ‘swing' than commonly assumed".

Support among Latinos for former President Donald Trump during the November 2020 presidential election was higher than previously thought, according to data in a newly released post-mortem analysis of the election.

The analysis, which was conducted by the Democratically-aligned research firm Equis Labs, found that "in 2020, a segment of Latino voters demonstrated more ‘swing' than commonly assumed".

The data suggests that the Trump campaign's efforts to boost support among Latinos were partially successful, even though as a whole the population played a critical role in the Democratic coalition that won the White House and flipped the Senate.

There are several states that Joe Biden and Senate Democrats won with the help of Latino voters, and there are none they lost because of them.

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"Still, Trump and the GOP actively campaigned for the Latino vote and made gains that cut across geography and place of origin," the report noted. "In South Florida, the gains were enough to flip congressional seats. But questions remain about the nature of the shift, which will take yet more time to unpack."

The report noted that Trump's gains showed it was less frequent Hispanic voters that displayed the most "swing" at the polls.

"Some analysis makes the mistake of treating the Hispanic electorate as static from election to election, when in fact it is incredibly dynamic and fast changing," the report stated.

"The Trump coalition of Hispanic voters, still dwarfed in size by the Democratic coalition, grew on the margins thank to a combination of defections and new voters, with likely a greater number of the latter," it added.

In many cases, the report noted, the "barriers" that had previously kept conservative Latinos for voting for Trump - such as his anti-immigrant positions - went down during the Covid-19 pandemic changed the focus towards the economy and other concerns.

The report found that Latino voting shifts took place across the country. Despite the changes, Latinos still largely favored Biden in most areas, with the notable exception of Miami.

In Arizona's Maricopa country, for example, raw vote totals for Trump rose 64%, compared to 38% in Milwaukee, 51% in Nevada and among Cubans in Miami-Dade. Among the non-Cuban Latino population of Miami, raw vote totals for Trump rose 120% when compared to 2016.

Only the city of Paterson, New Jersey - where the total number of raw votes for Trump rose 126% - saw a greater change.

The report noted that researchers have been unable to determine a definitive reason why the change took place nationally.

"Latinos aren't a monolith, but they remain a group. Trump gains seemed to be unique among those identifying as Latino across geography and place of origin," the report stated.

"We can't explain the national baseline shift toward Trump with idiosyncrasies specific to one region or nationality," the report added. "Border dynamics don't explain changes in New Jersey. Cuban [and] Venezuelan fear of socialism doesn't explain movement in Milwaukee."

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Among the various theories - which the report points out have no "fully explanatory power" - are shifting norms about Latino identity, propaganda and misinformation, fear of ‘Socialism' and the left, the impact of Covid and the economy and "realignment along lines of gender, education and ideology."

The report noted that the economy was a key driver for many Latinos who voted for Trump, particularly as shut down and pandemic-inducted job losses began to have an impact.

"[Voting for Trump] suited me because of my job. This year things have gone much better for me," a 31-year-old Latino Amazon delivery driver was quoted as saying. "The way he communicates made me hesitate. But I voted him more for economic reasons."

The report concludes that much of the support for Trump comes from Latino voters "with the lowest partisan formation."

"Neither party should assume that a Hispanic voter who cast a ballot for Trump in 2020 is locked in as a Republican going forward," the report said. "Nor can we assume this shift was exclusive to Trump and will revert back on its own."

"If there's a lesson for the future, it's to watch the margins and those voters who often remain invisible: the ones who stayed home and the many other aging into the electorate."

A separate study, conducted by UCLA'S Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, found that nearly 17 million Latino voters participated in the November election - a 30% increase from 2016. 

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