Once the backbone of the Democratic base, working-class white voters have been migrating toward the Republican Party since the 1960s, largely out of alienation from the Democrats’ liberal stands on cultural and racial issues. Half a century later, those working-class white voters—usually defined as having less than a four-year college education—have become the indisputable foundation of the Republican coalition, especially in the era of Donald Trump.
Now a chorus of centrist and right-leaning political analysts are claiming that the same shift has begun among working-class nonwhite voters, especially Latinos.
“We’re seeing a political realignment in real time,” Axios insisted in a recent analysis. “Democrats are becoming the party of upscale voters concerned more about issues like gun control and abortion rights. Republicans are quietly building a multiracial coalition of working-class voters, with inflation as an accelerant.”
If correct, these claims would offset, or even eliminate, the advantage Democrats expect from the demographic change that has steadily increased the share of the vote cast by people of color by about two percentage points every four years. Growth among working-class Latino voters, in particular, would offer the Republicans an escape from the demographic cul-de-sac in which their core constituencies of non-college-educated and white Christian voters have each fallen to only about two-fifths of the total population.
There’s no disagreement that Trump, despite all the controversies surrounding his hard-line immigration policies and his often harsh rhetoric about immigrants, ran better among Latinos in 2020 than he did in 2016. And there’s no dispute that President Joe Biden’s approval rating among Latinos has sagged, just as it has in most polls among other groups.
But whether these results amount to a lasting realignment among working-class Latino voters is much more disputed—as is the assertion that rejection of liberal cultural values is the principal cause of the recent Democratic difficulties with them. [Continue reading…]