As we begin to parse through Texas voter data, some surprising bits and pieces are floating to the top. Hopes of a Lone Star blue wave turned out to be elusive. Pollsters and voting advocate groups are homing in on Hispanic communities, particularly along the border, which they thought might help usher in that blue wave.
Comparing 2016 data and 2020 numbers from APVote Cast, the Hispanic vote in Texas for Joe Biden was up 1 percentage point over Hillary Clinton in 2016. While turnout was up in border communities, voters didn’t choose Biden in the numbers many assumed they would.
Jobs in oil and gas have been cited as a potential reason and there’s also the religious aspect; Catholics tend to vote conservative. Manuel Grajeda, the Texas strategist for civil rights and advocacy organization UnidosUS recently told The Guardian that Trump’s “strong man” image may have appealed to many Latinos.
Angelica Razo, Texas state director for Mi Familia Vota, which works to register Latino voters year-round in Texas, points to a couple of factors.
"We saw little or very last-minute investment from outside groups in the southern regions of Texas,” Razo told the Observer. “Areas that have higher Hispanic population percentages saw less investment. This must change.”
Additionally, Razo points at high COVID-19 rates in both El Paso and Hidalgo Counties, “It seems like the message from progressives on their COVID-19 plan did not reach them."
Looking at data from NPR on the largest 10 counties in Texas, sorted by the highest Hispanic population, there is a clear trend away from the Democratic ticket in the 2016 election compared with the 2020 election.
For example, in Hidalgo County, which includes the city of McAllen and is the seventh most populated county in the state with the largest percentage of the Hispanic population at 92%. In 2016 the county voted for Democrats by a 41 point margin. In 2020, that margin slid to 17 points, a 24-point drop (thus -24 on the chart).
In Collin County, the sixth-largest county in Texas with a 15% Hispanic population, there was a strong shift to blue in the 2020 election. In 2016, Collin County had a 17 -point GOP margin; this year that slid to just a 5-point margin, a 12 point drop.
Dallas County sits at about 40% total Hispanic population, and overall there was a 6-point shift in the margin toward the Democratic Party. On Election Day, Dallas resident Gilbert Gallegos told the Observer he was voting for President Donald Trump because he wants someone in office who has the best manner to run the country and to him, Trump had proven himself. Gallegos also mentioned the pandemic and the havoc it has caused. He still felt the incumbent president was the best person for the job.
To Razo’s point, if you add COVID-19 rates per thousand to the data, the same trend holds; counties that are experiencing higher infection rates shifted away from Democrats.
The next general election (hopefully) won’t be during a pandemic. But, perhaps taking Razo’s advice, there will be more of an investment in reaching those voters next prior to the next election.
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