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It has come to my attention that Biden has underperformed Democrats' usual margins with Hispanic voters. He won their votes (as a group, remember: Hispanics are not a monolith and come from different countries & cultures) handily, but not by as wide of a margin as Democrats had in the past since at least 2012.

One interesting trend that I noticed that happened in mostly Hispanic districts was that House Democratic incumbents did better than Biden. I know this is using mostly Texas Hispanics (those voted to the right of the national average among Hispanics/Latinos), but in the California district the same pattern is also evident.

There are six congressional districts that meet my criteria. Pay attention to the fourth column because this is where that information is coming from.

House districts with 70% Hispanic or more that are Dem represented in 2021-23 congress and not uncontested

District Biden Margin House D Margin House-Prez. diff % Hispanic
TX-15 2 3 1 83
TX-16 34 30 -4 82
TX-28 5 19 14 79
TX-29 33 44 11 76
TX-20 29 31 2 71
CA-20 47 53 6 70
Mean 25 30 5 77

I've been wondering what exactly caused it. Trump has been accused of running an anti-immigrant campaign, and yet Florida was one of the three states Trump won out of six states that shifted towards Trump (when accounting for third parties). (Florida is different because of its Cuban population which voted Republican in the past, swung towards Obama, and now swung heavily against Biden.)

I think the most plausible explanation is the pandemic, but I just want an objective confirmation.

In other words, why did it seem that there was a lot of Trump+Dem. ticket splitting among Hispanics, or at least most heavily Hispanic areas?

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  • Related: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/60884/…. I decided not to delete the question because it is different. California as a whole is not a heavily Hispanic area compared to the districts listed in the question. And, even though some Republicans narrowly won their seats back when they lost in 2018, the state trended more Democratic than 2016 and shifted less than the national average in 2020 vs 2018, and that shift was even smaller than for president in 2016, also tying into this. Dec 16, 2020 at 19:09
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    Trump is famously against the covid-combating shutdowns that have an outsized impact on service workers. It's hard to convince someone facing unemployment and eviction to vote their long-term economic interests.
    – dandavis
    Dec 16, 2020 at 23:02
  • Not much of a trend. Six districts. Three clearly supporting the alleged trend (two adjacent districts in Texas much more strongly than one in CA), one strongly counter to the alleged trend, and two with House and Presidential results insignificantly different from each other. Sounds like individual reasons related to campaigns and candidates, not a trend.
    – ohwilleke
    Jun 14, 2022 at 0:57

2 Answers 2

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This is perhaps a somewhat simplistic view on the voting habits of Hispanic Americans, but of the Districts you listed:

All of the 5 Texas representatives are themselves Hispanic. Again, a bit simplistic, but I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that Hispanic Americans are more likely to ignore/forgive some policy/belief differences for a fellow Hispanic American than for an 'old white guy' in Joe Biden. Interestingly, one of the closest of the races in these districts was in TX-15, where the Republican candidate was a Hispanic-American woman.

(Jimmy Panetta is not Hispanic, but he was up against an essentially unknown Republican candidate and won with like 80% of his district's vote - maybe not an overly useful example)

Also worth noting, all 6 of these races were won by the incumbents. Perhaps, given the pandemic, there was some bias towards 'stability' ('the devil you know'), especially among minority communities who have been impacted severely by the economic situation. This could account for votes that went to Trump over Biden in the Presidential race, despite those same people voting Democrat further down the ticket.

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    Incumbency advantage isn't just a pandemic phenomenon.
    – Mark
    Jan 16, 2021 at 19:21
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    Something potentially overlooked is that by and large, Hispanics in Texas aren't from somewhere else. They were here before us and remained in place during the Texas independent years and now view themselves as American is any of the rest of us, perhaps more so. As the OP said, Hispanics is a term that needs to be used sparingly when viewing different parts of the nation.
    – CGCampbell
    Sep 13, 2021 at 15:01
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Unfortunately few Americans actually look at the various candidates for office. We pay attention to the presidential race, but not much to other offices. All too often we see their names for the first time when we get our ballots. We tend to recognize the name of the incumbent and often know virtually nothing about the challengers. worse, the only thing we may have heard about the challenger is the negative campaigning of the incumbent. while incumbent congressmen have be unseated, it is rare.

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