Mar 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Democrats' big vulnerability: Why they're losing Black, Hispanic voters

Data: Gallup Poll Social Series; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios
Data: Gallup Poll Social Series; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

New data shows that Democrats' longtime advantage with Black, Latino and Asian American voters has shrunk to its lowest point in more than 60 years — creating a massive vulnerability for President Biden and congressional Democrats.

Why it matters: One of the most loyal parts of the Democratic coalition is suddenly in danger. Black and Hispanic men could vote Republican in numbers not seen since President Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected in the 1950s.

The big picture: Latinos, the nation's largest non-white group, still lean Democratic. But they've been shifting Republican over the last two decades, and are no longer the slam-dunk Democrats they were in 1960 when JFK ran for president.

By the numbers: Democrats' advantage among Black, Latino and Asian voters is at its lowest since 1960, Financial Times columnist and chief data reporter John Burn-Murdoch found by analyzing a massive set of polling data.

  • A New York Times/Siena College poll out March 2 found that President Biden led former President Trump by just 56 points to 44 among non-white Americans.
  • That's a group Biden won by almost 50 points when the two men last fought it out for the White House in 2020, Burn-Murdoch points out.

The intrigue: The drop-off comes even after Trump made several racist and bigoted comments about immigrants and people of color.

  • It also comes after some Democratic talking heads predicted for years that racial and ethnic demographic shifts would give Democrats a political majority for decades.

Between the lines: "Part of this is due to fading memories and weakening ties. Black Americans who lived through the civil rights era still support the party at very high levels, but younger generations are wavering," Burn-Murdoch writes.

  • Many of America's non-white voters have long held much more conservative views than their voting patterns would suggest, he said.

Reality check: Not all people of color have deep ties to the Civil Rights Movement. Many of their families arrived in the U.S. after the 1960s, said Republican consultant Mike Madrid, who's based in Sacramento.

  • Madrid said the Latino population was small during the Civil Rights era. Today, few children of immigrants who came after the 1960s know who civil rights leaders Gus Garcia, Héctor P. García or Dolores Huerta are.
  • "Democrats cannot conceive that non-white voters are anything other than civil rights voters," he said. "In their mind, all Latinos need to be talked to like farmworkers or the undocumented. Even though that's less than 95% of us."

What they're saying: Democrats need to make a massive shift in their messages, Sisto Abeyta, a Democratic political consultant in New Mexico, tells Axios.

  • Latinos, Black Americans and Asian Americans have been upwardly mobile in the last two decades. Democrats' Great Society rhetoric no longer resonates, Abeyta said.

Democrats' focus on abortion rights and the environment isn't appealing to some Latinos. The face of abortion tends to be white women. Climate change fights are reduced to just getting an EV.

  • "My gente [people] don't want to buy an EV. My people like to ride slow and low," Abeyta said, referring to classic muscle-car low-riders.

Flashback: Asian Americans proved themselves to be a critical voting bloc in 2022. San Francisco voted overwhelmingly to remove three progressive school board members from office.

  • Asian American parents were angry about the board's delay in reopening schools. Many were also upset about plans to install a lottery admissions system at a prestigious local high school.

Go deeper: A small group of ranchers helps illustrate Latinos' shift away from Democrats.

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