Jun 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Republican strategist says Latinos are the new "Reagan Democrats"

"The Latino Century: How America's Largest Minority Is Transforming Democracy" by Mike Madrid

Photo: Courtesy of Mike Madrid

A growing part of the Latino electorate is relating less to the Democratic Party and more to the GOP because of blue-collar economic issues, an anti-Trump Republican consultant says in an upcoming book.

The big picture: The gradual shift makes Latinos the new "Reagan Democrats" — moderate Democrats in the 1980s who supported President Ronald Reagan — and may change assumptions of race and politics that both parties aren't prepared to face, author Mike Madrid argues.

Zoom in: Madrid's "The Latino Century: How America's Largest Minority is Transforming Democracy," is set for release on June 25 by Simon & Schuster.

  • The book is based on Madrid's three decades as a GOP political consultant in California and his observations of how Latino voting patterns have shifted often confusing both parties.
  • The former Lincoln Project member decided to write it after seeing Democrats and Republicans repeatedly misreading Latino voters and ignoring their concerns.

What they're saying: "Republicans are winning this (Latino working class) vote despite their best efforts, not because of it," Madrid tells Axios.

  • Although Republicans today are seen by Latinos as having better economic policy than Democrats, they do little to engage Latino voters, he says.
  • "Republicans are viewed as defenders of the blue-collar workforce in manufacturing, construction, energy, agriculture, mining, and forestry spaces — all the areas where Latinos are not only the dominant share in the workforce but growing."
  • Democrats, however, focus on issues that aren't resonating with non-college-educated Latinos, like electric vehicles or student loan debt, he adds.

Zoom out: Polls and recent elections show that once GOP-leaning college-educated voters are shifting strongly to Democrats while once reliable Democratic voters are moving to the GOP.

Madrid, who hosts a podcast with Democratic strategist Chuck Rocha, says working-class voters, including union members, are listening to conservative talk radio.

  • In his book, Madrid writes how he used to work to find these Latino swing voters in close California elections and win enough of them to flip a seat.
  • Now, "it's getting a lot easier."

Background: Madrid's book joins a small number of works by conservative Latino political experts.

Yes, but: Madrid's book suggests Latino swing voters could ultimately change both parties, not vice versa.

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