In the months since the 2020 presidential election was declared over and Joe Biden ascended to the White House, the future of the Republican Party has been the subject of much speculation, and if the GOP hopes to have a strong showing in the 2024 contest, there are some instructive lessons to be gleaned from recent history, as new reporting suggests.
According to new data published by Axios, in last year’s election, former President Donald Trump enjoyed a surge of support from Hispanic voters, many of whom were first-time and swing voters on whom Republicans must train their focus if their loyalty is to be maintained next time around.
The “2020 Postmortem” research, conducted by Equis Labs suggests that the biggest shifts toward Trump in these groups came from individuals with the weakest existing strength of partisan identification – often referred to as swing voters, with Trump having real success in bringing into his electoral fold those “usually on the sidelines of politics,” and that this was due to a “combination of defections and new voters, with likely a greater number of the latter,” as Breitbart noted.
Trump’s populist message appeared to resonate especially loudly with Hispanic voters in Miami, Paterson, New Jersey, and the Rio Grande Valley, where concern over keeping workers in their jobs amid stringent coronavirus lockdowns, with one such voter declaring, “Biden was acting like he wanted to do a complete shutdown. Trump wanted to reopen the states, return to normal.”
Economic motivations, rather than personal affinity, appeared to be critical to this newly-influential voting block, with another respondent – a delivery driver – explaining:
[Voting for Trump] because of my job. This year things have gone much better for me. The way he communicates made me hesitate. But I voted for him more for economic reasons.
Despite Democrats’ efforts to slam Trump throughout the campaign over his tough stance on immigration, the Equis research actually discovered that, among these particular voters, frustration with limits on arrivals was seen as less of a reason to oppose Trump as it may have been in 2016.
Some Hispanic respondents drew a clear distinction between Trump and those on the left who have made big promises to constituent groups, but never delivered, as a Peruvian-born immigrant opined:
There are many Hispanics who voted for [Trump] because…for example, Obama talked about immigration and didn’t do anything. He says, promises, and he didn’t act.
Meanwhile, Trump didn’t say and he didn’t promise and he didn’t act. It’s what many people didn’t like about him, he says things clearly and directly. Unlike other presidents who talked and didn’t act.
It is not entirely clear how these insights can or should guide the GOP’s strategy for 2024, as the Equis researchers posit that “Neither party should assume that a Hispanic voter who cast a ballot for Trump in 2020 is locked in as a Republican going forward. Nor can we assume this shift was exclusive to Trump and will revert back on its own.”
However, Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) is among those urging that the type of policy positions taken by Trump in 2020 – including tough stances on trade with China, cancel culture, and illegal immigration – must be championed by the party in order to reclaim the House in 2022 – let alone the White House in 2024 – from Democrats willing to “keep alienating working-class voters because that’s what their donors demand.”
Whether, as Banks put it, Republicans will reject the “political gift” Trump gave the party or “unwrap it and permanently become the Party of the Working Class” remains to be seen.