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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Analysis: Demographics as destiny? Maybe not

Photo by via

Following the election of Mayra Flores, opinion writer Ryan Lindner says Democrats need to reconsider their approach to demographics.

For decades, conventional political wisdom has held that the increasing percentage of minority voters in the electorate, particularly Hispanics, would spell doom for the Republican party.
In 2002, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira attempted to put some statistical heft behind the theory in their seminal book, “The Emerging Democratic Majority.” This belief was reinforced further when Barack Obama trounced Mitt Romney in 2012 and received about 80% of the racial minority vote. The standard explanation was that demographic trends heavily favor Democrats and would continue to for the foreseeable future.
Writing for the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart declared, “Four years ago, it looked possible that Barack Obama’s election heralded a new era of Democratic dominance. Now it looks almost certain.”
Someone should tell that to Mayra Flores.
The Republican congressional candidate prevailed last month against Democrat Dan Sanchez in Texas’s 34th congressional district, an area that is 85% Hispanic and located directly on the Texas-Mexico border. Winning by a seven-point margin, Flores ended the Democrat’s 150-year hold on the region, making her the first Mexican-born congresswoman in American history.
Now, I think this election should be taken with a grain of salt, given its low turnout and Republicans massively outspending the Democrats. However, it seems there are broader trends at work. Obama and Hillary Clinton won District 34 by 23 points in 2012 and 2016, respectively. This is a stark contrast from Joe Biden in 2020, who won by a measly four points. Furthermore, poll after poll shows Democrats losing support among Hispanics. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 54% of Hispanic adults disapprove of President Biden, and the Wall Street Journal found that Republicans are making considerable gains in minority communities. Five of the counties where Donald Trump made his most significant gains from 2016 to 2020 were majority Hispanic counties in South Texas. The demographic triumphalism so prevalent in Democratic circles is looking as if it were built on a foundation of sand.
While there are many probable reasons for this electoral realignment, Flores’ campaign highlights two significant reasons Democrats are starting to come up short in communities where they have long dominated. Namely, economic and cultural issues.
On the economic front, Flores was focused on reducing inflation, the price of gasoline and the overall costs of living. According to one of her campaign flyers, “Mayra will stop out-of-control spending that is fueling inflation, cut taxes for working families and force the politicians to balance the budget.” Flores’ message of economic prosperity undoubtedly appeals to Hispanic voters who, according to the Pew Research Center, care more about the economy than any other issue.
Furthermore, Flores campaigned on supporting the oil and gas industry, which is an essential part of South Texas’s economic lifeline. In comparison, Democrats have spent the better part of the last decade demonizing the fossil fuel industry and trying to regulate it out of existence.
Perhaps most notable about Flores’ messaging was that she didn’t shy away from immigration. On her campaign website, she lists being “Pro-Border Security” as one of her main issues and writes, “We MUST secure our border to keep bad individuals out and to encourage LEGAL immigration.” Her overall border hawkishness throws cold water on previous Republican orthodoxy which argued the party had to tack to the left to adapt to changing demographics. Instead, data from the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation suggests border security measures are pretty popular with Texas Hispanics, with a majority favoring Governor Abbott’s and the Texas legislature’s recent actions at the border.
Lastly, Flores capitalized on the fact that Democrats are increasingly out of touch with minority working-class people who are turned off by progressive elitism and political correctness. If you don’t believe me, go down to the Rio Grande Valley and use the phrase “Latinx” or “Birthing-person.” You might get a door slammed in your face. In contrast, Flores’ campaign slogan was “God, Family, Country” which is common sense to her district’s voters.
If Democrats continue to be seen as the party of weak border enforcement, wokeism and bad economic policy, the realignment of Hispanic voters to the GOP will continue. Rather than a statistical blip, the election of Mayra Flores is one of many red flags flying in the face of the Democratic Party. If the leftward shift continues, it will lose critical constituencies long relied on for winning close elections. The proposition that changing demographics would forever benefit Democrats should be discarded as an offensive act of political hubris which takes swaths of voters for granted.
Flores will be up for re-election in November using the new Democrat-friendly redistricting lines. Whether she wins again or not, her recent victory is a testament to the fact that liberal progressives can’t afford to take the Hispanic community for granted. In the world of politics, nothing is a given.
Ryan Lindner is a political science sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Ryan Lindner
Ryan Lindner, Head Opinion Editor
Ryan Lindner is a political science senior from Hutto, Texas, minoring in history. Ryan joined The Battalion as an opinion columnist in June 2022  until he became the Assistant Opinion Editor for the Spring 2023 semester. Since July 2023, Ryan has been The Battalion's Head Opinion Editor. Ryan has covered a range of topics, from local politics and campus culture to national issues, such as school choice and drug policy. After graduation, Ryan hopes to pursue a master's degree in international affairs.
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