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Stunning Upset on Texas Border Leaves Dems in Denial as Hispanics Flee to GOP

AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

Texas

Cameron County, Texas, sits on the southernmost tip of the state, sandwiched between the Mexican Border and the Gulf. It has long been a Democratic stronghold. On Tuesday night, voters went to the polls in a special election to replace Democrat Congressman Filemon Vela Jr. of the 34th Congressional District, who had resigned. By a margin of 7% points, they elected a young Hispanic Republican woman named Mayra Flores. Flores became the first Republican ever to represent the district after Fila had won the seat by 14% less than two years before.

While George W. Bush narrowly won Cameron County in 2004, 50.32% to 49.16%, this was an outlier. John McCain took only 35% in 2008, Romney 34% in 2012, and Donald Trump 32% in 2016. In 2020, however, Trump seemed to begin to reverse the trend significantly: he lost the county by “only” 56%-43%, as part of his surge among blue-collar Hispanic voters around the country.

Democrats hoped Trump’s 2020 gains would be a one-off. They appear to have been badly mistaken.

Former Obama pollster David Shor was quick to warn: “If you look at things like the Texas local elections, the New Jersey elections, Nassau County elections, the Virginia elections, they all point to Hispanics not just not snapping back but continuing to get more Republican in relative terms than they were before.”

Texas’s 34th Congressional District is ground-zero for these shifts. The district is one of the most heavily Hispanic in the nation, with 85% of the population citing Hispanic or Latino ancestry, according to the 2010 census. There is little basis for Democrats to blame “white backlash” or “racism” for losses when less than 12% of the population identified primarily as white, nor were BLM issues paramount when African Americans made up a mere 1.4% of the population.

The county is quite poor, with 22% of families and almost one in four individuals living below the poverty line in 2019.  In effect, it is exactly the sort of seat you would expect to have voted for Democrats a decade ago. And if there is one statistic we have learned to look out for to figure out why a district is no longer voting for Democrats today: a mere 15.9% of adults held bachelor’s degrees or higher. When we consider these trends, and the wider ones in American politics, what happened in the 34th is not a surprise. And that is exactly why it should terrify Democrats.

As Eric Garcia, a Hispanic Democratic commentator, warned on election night, “There is a political earthquake happening in Latino politics in South Texas and there is a reason I have been saying it will be voting like West Virginia.”

A chart of the 34th district’s voting history shows the reason for the panic.

Year PresidentCongress
2012 61%-38% Obama62%-36% Democratic
2016 59%-37% Clinton63%-37% Democratic
2020 51% – 47% Biden55%-42% Democratic
2022 special  52.5%-47.5% Republican

That is not so much a drift as a collapse. Two things are apparent. First, the argument that “Border Latinos simply like incumbents,” which was trotted out to explain Donald Trump’s gains in 2020, is not the case. In fact, Hispanic voters did not just vote GOP once in 2020; they are becoming Republicans. And why not?

The 34th district was among the areas hardest hit both by COVID lockdowns and then by the border crisis. Working class, with a large portion of the population in the service sector, locals had fewer options to work remotely and suffered a greater burden from being unable to send their kids to school. Directly adjacent to the border, they have also suffered directly from the deteriorating security situation, and rather than viewing the border patrol in racial terms, a large majority of officers are locals, which means the Biden Administration has both followed policies which have increased crime and launched direct attacks on those locals who did the most to fight it.

The second thing the trend shows is that Democrats are engaged in some combination of spin or denial when they try and write-off the result, as many have, by arguing there was a deliberate decision to concede the election for a seat which will not exist. The current 34th, which voted for Biden 51%-47% is being replaced with a new seat this November which will be much more Democratic (Biden will have won the new seat 57%-42%), and neighboring Congressman Vincent Gonzalez will be running for it. As they are “guaranteed” to win back the seat in November, Democrats allowed David Sanchez, a Cameron County commissioner, to be outspent nearly 20-1 in the special election.

There is a problem with this confidence. For one thing, Biden will still have done worse in the new seat in 2020 than Hillary Clinton did in the existing seat in 2016, and the same trends are still present. If anything, they are even stronger. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the new 34th district 66%-30%. In 2020 Biden won it 57%-42%. In those four years, Donald Trump gained 12% and Biden lost 9%, compared to 10% and 8% in the old seat. Which makes sense, as the new seat is even more Hispanic, more border-centered, and more blue-collar than the existing one.

The district will also now have something else: a charismatic incumbent in Mayra Flores, who is the first Mexican-born woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. At 36, she is 18 years younger than Gonzalez, who decided to run in the new 34th precisely to avoid having to face a competitive race in his old district after only surviving by 3% in a district Biden won by 2% (Clinton won it by 17%, see a trend?). Flores has a compelling personal story. She immigrated to America with her parents at age six, picked cotton to put herself through school, and worked on the frontlines as a health worker during Covid. A former Democrat, she left over her pro-life convictions, making her a better representative of the voters she wishes to represent in a district where the median age is 33.

She is also riding the wave of the future, one which saw Gonzalez’s home town of McAllen elect a Republican mayor this February. McAllen, like the new 34th, is 85% Hispanic, and voted for Joe Biden by 17% (as opposed to 15% in the new seat).

The November clash between Flores and Gonzalez, then, will not just be a test of how far the realignment we saw on Tuesday has gone, but also a representation of why it is happening. On one side is the young, charismatic, blue-collar Republican woman. On the other, an aging professional pol who chose to run in a district because he felt he would not have to work. The problem for Democrats is not merely that their excuse for losing the seat this week was that they ran a lazy candidate who they failed to work for. The problem is that their candidate in November is someone similar. It looks increasingly likely that the Hispanic voters of Cameron County and the whole Rio Grande Valley are tired of being taken for granted.

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.


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Robin Boyd
5 months ago

Southern Hemisphere people of Spanish descent are mostly God loving, hard working people who want to better themselves, not be taken care of. Progressive Democrats only want to control these folk, not give them opportunities to progress.

Leon Haller
5 months ago

It would be even better in the future if we halted the insane, 57 year and counting, LEGAL immigration invasion (the illegal invasion, more then 57 years old and never worse than right now, is a law enforcement, and perhaps military, matter, not an issue of immigration policy). GOP could become competitive with Hispanics eventually, if they are given ample time to assimilate, and the GOP actively courts them for Republican reasons (as opposed to pulling the Jack Kemp / George Bush / John McCain failed strategy of trying to sound as much like Democrats as possible on immigration, while then pivoting to pointing out GOP superiority on other issues, like the economy).

Latinos generally, however, are not “natural Republicans”. Most are Mexicans, and Mexico has an historically very collectivist/socialist culture. Dems are losing them with their wokester weirdness. But if, after a good drubbing this year and in ’24 (we hope!), the Dems start to dial back the cultural wokeness and focus more on their standard wealth redistributionary and racial spoils politics approaches, expect many Hispanics to return to them.

If you are a true conservative – even a colorblind one (that is, you don’t care about current, deliberate, government-engineered White Replacement policies, but you do authentically care about the triumph of conservative legislative priorities) – the best path forward is to work to end mass immigration, legal as well as illegal. Immigration has never been our ally – only that of big businesses that want endless supplies of low wage labor to undercut both [the dwindling, private sector] unions, and the wages of low-skilled American workers.

Ashley Squishy
5 months ago

For years I always heard the standard GOP line about how Hispanics are “natural Republicans” repeated ad nauseam. but it seemed like those Hispanics never got the message.

So while I’m glad to see the developments described in this article, especially Ms. Flores surprising victory, let us recall that they are the result not of enthusiasm for the GOP but rather the total collapse of the Dems in Texas (although I must say the Texas GOP has been assiduously courting them for years, unlike their California counterparts). Hispanics’ interests are the same as they always were: prosperity, and the GOP looked to be a better choice on that score, while the Dems thought they should share the Dems’ intense concern about CRT, BLM, the transgender and LGBTQ+ agenda, climate change, pronouns, plastic straws, and Palestinians. I hope the Dems will continue to implode in the future, but we cannot take that for granted, any more than we can expect that the GOP will wise up.

Centurion
5 months ago

How did they get around all the demon-communist-cRATs voter fraud machine?

Rich
5 months ago

It seems many of the “poor” folks that voted have more respect for family, integrity and freedom than the socialist/democrats give them credit for. As I’ve said before, when the illegals that are flooding our borders get the opportunity to make a difference they will support freedom and the American dream far more that the “free” handouts that the socialist/Marxists provide. We just might see a strong shift to the right in the future. The socialist/democrats might have just made a monumental error in their “strategy”.

Mike
5 months ago

OUTSTANDING!

Jack
5 months ago

She didn’t pick cotton when she was growing up. Nobody in the US has hand picked cotton in over 50 years. She probably hoed the weeds out of the cotton fields when she was growing up. The author, like most Americans, knows absolutely nothing about agriculture.

Barb
5 months ago

I know many black people, have worked with many black people, have found that they are just as honest and hard working as caucasians, hispanics, etc. There are good people in every race, there are bad people in every race. There have been issues in Georgia, and maybe other states, but all people of one race should not be lumped together.

Rich
5 months ago
Reply to  Barb

So true Barb! The comments above are actually racist.

Hal
5 months ago

Talk about a DemocRat controlled Texas Community, Lincoln County (Laredo) has been a hotbed of DemocRat control for almost a century. Lyndon Johnson won his first senator election against a Democrat (O’Daniel, if I recall correctly) and he won it with a huge voting day last-minute surge influx of votes in his favor and changed him from the runner up to the winner. Back in those days the Republicans were not a factor, and they didn’t even have a party election to select their nominees for the State Election. And in that era in Texas, it apparently was okay in the DemocRat Party elections to rig them … there was no need to rig the final state election since the Republicans were simply not competitively “in the running.” So, the DemocRat Party has rigged elections as one of its strategies as historical well-practiced and performed normal tactics.

Ashley Squishy
5 months ago
Reply to  Hal

There’s no Lincoln County in Texas. Laredo is in Webb County.

Hal
5 months ago
Reply to  Ashley Squishy

Correct! My bad memory. Webb County it is!!!! I’m at an age where small details nudge their way into mis-recall! You might say, on that basis, I’m qualified to run for POTUS in the DemocRat Party! (Obviously a joke … I would be ashamed to have any honest affiliation with the DemocRat Party).

Tom
5 months ago
Reply to  Hal

If Johnson won it was fixed. His defeat of Coke Stevenson is full of fixations.

Hal
5 months ago
Reply to  Tom

As the story goes .. there is/was a huge faction that were highly partial to LBJ … and they were strong enough to magically come up with enough votes to get LBJ on top. Every tombstone in all the surrounding counties got to put in a vote … for LBJ. In that era rigging votes in Party Rrunoff was okay Party politics, But that was back in an era when, in the DemocRat Party, rigging elections was SOP. And I thought that had gone the way of dinosaurs until Biden got elected!!!!.

HelenC
5 months ago

I had Hispanic neighbors 10 years ago. Both of them disapproved of illegal border crossers coming across southern US border. One had a son who worked for border patrol in California. Biden and his cabinet are arrogant to think they know what US Hispanics feel and think.

Edmund
5 months ago

Hispanics are polling at 60% Republican. Apparently, Democrats are discovering that Hispanics pay for gas, food and rent too.

CynicalAmerican
5 months ago
Reply to  Edmund

Personnally, I find it to be very racist that the Dems, who claim to care about poor people and people of color, have no interest in protecting the people who live along the Southern Border and who are the most negatively impacted by the Biden-Harris-Mayorkas open borders agenda. People who live along the Southern Border should be able to live in communities that are as safe and prosperous as other communities in the USA, but instead they are being innudated with the disastrous effects of an open borders policy that is allowing unvetted, untested millions of illegal aliens to enter the USA and spread crime, potential diseases, illicit drugs, possibly human trafficking, and even terrorism there and then eventually throughout the rest of the USA as Biden is using clandestine flights to NY and other areas to relocate these illegal aliens.

Marie Langley
5 months ago

RED=REMOVE EVERY DEMOCRAT

Rich
5 months ago
Reply to  Marie Langley

AND RHINO’s!

steve
5 months ago

DID WHITE WOMEN AND AFRICAN AMERICANS WIN IT FOR YOUNGKIN? “YES” – Virginia Election Result Maps
commoncts.blogspot.com/2021/11/did-white-women-and-african-americans.html

Silence Dogood
5 months ago

I predict the Democrats and liberals get religion really quick now on closing the border.

Sean Richman
5 months ago

Lets just hope that this save AMERICA trend continues and we vote the destroy AMERICA democaRATS totally out of our country,then send soros back to Hungary where he will get what he deserves.

JEFFREY JONES
5 months ago

SAVE THE U.S.A….EXTERMINATE ALL demonrats, commies, and nazis!!..Its time for a new civil war against the far-left loonies!..//,,,

Patricia Gayle Binder
5 months ago

I don’t see any panic on the part of democrats. We never saw Biden worried about the election because he knew it was a sure thing. We can expect another stolen election.

HelenC
5 months ago

Hope your prediction is wrong about another successful Dem steal. We have to elect a president who did what Obama did—purge DOJ, military top brass, FBI, Dept of Education, IRS, of all left leaning (current) employees.

SusanP
5 months ago

It won’t be so easy to steal the next election. In many places, states and local governments are working to make it harder to steal. In KY, every vote now has a paper trail and any election machine with internet access is banned.

Rich
5 months ago
Reply to  SusanP

Patricia, Biden doesn’t even worry about getting a brain freeze while eating too much ice cream!

Doug
5 months ago

VOTE OUT ALL DEMOCRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sage
5 months ago

If this re-alignment continues for a couple more election cycles ……

The Democrats will come out firmly against illegal (oops) undocumented immigration and declare they have always been against it.

Sage
5 months ago

test – apologies to the board for this

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