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One of the iron laws of U.S. politics is that the party in power will most certainly lose seats during the midterm elections, and Biden’s low approval numbers appear to show that 2022 will not be an exception. Most worrisome, however, for the Democratic Party is that surveys are showing a Latino revolt against them, something which would be a seismic shift in American politics for years to come.
The fallout between Biden and the Latino electorate has grown over his term in office, and poll after poll has demonstrated the growing disappointment and dislike Hispanics have of the President. The latest NPR/Marist poll shows that only 40% of Hispanics approve of Biden’s performance as president, while 55% disapprove—this is a massive fall compared with Biden’s initial good numbers with Latinos in March 2021, when 64% of Hispanics approved of his presidency.
The unprecedented free fall of Biden with the Latino electorate has received much media attention over the last few months. Nevertheless, there were some questions if the Latinos’ disapproval of Biden would actually convert to actual votes for the Republican Party in this year’s midterm elections.
This month’s Marist poll brought some insight to answer this question, and the data would surely be received with cheers in the GOP headquarters and with dread in the White House.
The Hispanic realignment against Biden is in full swing
The first news from the survey is that Hispanics disapprove of Biden’s job performance both in general and on the issues. Not only does a majority of 55% of Hispanics disapprove of the way Biden has done his job, but crucially there are far more Latinos who strongly disapprove of the President (35%) than those who strongly approve (10%) of him. This enthusiasm gap could prove to be pivotal on Election day, especially since midterms used to have lower turnout figures than presidential elections.
Hispanics also disapprove of Biden’s handling of arguably the most important issue for any politician, the economy. The survey shows that an astonishing 60% of Latinos disapprove of the way Biden is dealing with the economic situation, making it the demographic that disapproves the most of Biden’s economic performance.
Furthermore, Latinos not only disapprove of Biden’s political performance, but they also don’t like him. The Marist survey shows that 56% of Hispanics have an unfavorable impression of Joe Biden, while only 37% have a favorable image.
Latinos prefer the Republican Party over Democrats on most issues
The best news for the GOP is yet further into the survey data. The Latino disapproval of Biden appears to be transforming their voting preferences and their evaluations of each political party as well, signaling a potentially historic realignment of the historically Democrat Latino electorate.
The most shocking data point from this survey is the one showing a significant majority of Hispanics saying they would be more likely to vote for Republicans than Democrats in this year’s midterms. According to the NPR/Marist poll, 52% of Hispanics would vote for a Republican candidate for Congress, a 13-point difference from the 39% of Latinos who would vote for the Democratic candidate. This would make Latinos the ethnic demographic that is more favorable towards the Republican Party.
It is not surprising then that most Hispanics in the survey also think the GOP would do a better job than the Democrats at handling the economy, inflation, crime, and national security. Even on the issue of immigration, where Democrats have spent a lot of time trying to court the Latino vote, the Hispanic electorate is not so sure if the Democrats would do a better job than the GOP.
Political media strategist Giancarlo Sopo, who coordinated Trump’s Latino outreach campaign for 2020, made an insightful Twitter thread where he argues that economic and safety issues are the ones driving the Latino vote towards the GOP. Sopo, who directed the viral salsa Trump ad, cleverly summarized his analysis of the current opportunity for Republicans with Latinos tweeting that the GOP’s message towards Latinos should be: “Republicans want you to have more pupusas. Democrats want you to have more pronouns.”
Although the Latino sample in this poll is not very big, the NPR/Marist survey is just another one on a long list of polls indicating that Democrats will have a tough fight to win the Latino vote again.
Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.