How Much Are Latinos Shifting Right?

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So far, the information remains mixed. And the defection of Ryan Guillen, a Texas authorities lawmaker, to the G.O.P. whitethorn not person been driven solely by ideology.

State Representative Ryan Guillen, left, has portrayed himself arsenic  portion  of a inclination   of Hispanic voters moving toward the Republican Party.
Credit...Bob Daemmrich for The Austin American-Statesman, via USA Today Network

Jennifer Medina

Nov. 30, 2021, 6:19 p.m. ET

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For years, State Representative Ryan Guillen of Texas was regarded arsenic the astir blimpish Democratic legislator successful Austin. He was 1 of conscionable a fewer from the enactment to ballot successful favour of carrying handguns without a permit, and the sole Democrat successful the House enclosure to ballot for the state’s caller instrumentality banning astir abortions. He remained fashionable successful his Rio Grande Valley district, winning re-election past twelvemonth by 17 percent points.

Then came the news this month: He was switching parties.

“After overmuch information and supplication with my family, I consciousness that my fiscally conservative, pro-business, and pro-life values are nary longer successful measurement with the Democratic Party of today,” Mr. Guillen said.

It’s an aged saw successful politics: I haven’t changed, the enactment has changed. And successful the past, it has been reasonably applied to some Republicans and Democrats. Mr. Guillen has portrayed himself arsenic portion of a inclination of Hispanic voters moving toward the Republican Party, particularly successful South Texas, wherever Donald J. Trump made large inroads during the 2020 election. But it’s excessively soon to archer conscionable however overmuch of a lasting displacement the question represents.

The Republican Party has been reaching retired to Latino voters for decades, peculiarly successful Texas. Former President George W. Bush famously courted them with his “compassionate conservatism.” And it was erstwhile President Ronald Reagan who told his Hispanic outreach manager that helium would person the easiest occupation successful the world, due to the fact that “Hispanics are already Republicans, they conscionable don’t cognize it yet.”

Historically, astir 30 percent of Hispanic voters person chosen to ballot Republican successful statesmanlike elections, a fig that accrued somewhat successful 2020, surprising galore Democrats. Republicans, unsurprisingly, celebrated the displacement and person portrayed it arsenic a seismic displacement that could alteration the parties.

“Republicans’ enthusiasm and consciousness of momentum ebbs and flows, and this is simply a infinitesimal of precocious enthusiasm,” said Geraldo Cadava, a prof of past astatine Northwestern University and the writer of the publication “The Hispanic Republican.” “They privation to capitalize connected the momentum they consciousness similar they person close now. They truly deliberation the vigor is connected their side, but they person to beryllium that 2020 wasn’t conscionable a blip.”

So far, the information remains mixed. While determination was immoderate dampened enthusiasm among Latino voters during the callback predetermination of Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, for example, an investigation from the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative astatine the University of California, Los Angeles, showed that Latino-heavy precincts overwhelmingly backed Newsom’s remaining successful office.

But successful San Antonio this month, Democrats mislaid different State House spot to a Hispanic Republican, John Lujan.

Now, galore Democrats are openly worried, with immoderate calling Hispanics the caller plaything elector group.

“Democrats person to beryllium that they tin halt their losses, and they person to amusement these voters they are proceeding them and caring astir them,” Dr. Cadava said.

Of course, cognition tin thrust reality: If Latinos judge that Democrats instrumentality them for granted, they are much apt to ballot for Republican candidates, according to investigation from Equis Research, a Washington-based steadfast that focuses connected Latino voters crossed the country.

Mr. Guillen, who did not respond to respective messages from The Times, has fiercely embraced his caller party, appearing with Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas during his enactment power announcement and welcoming an endorsement from Mr. Trump by enthusiastically recalling however his signs “covered South Texas” during the statesmanlike election. (Four years aft Hillary Clinton won the territory by 13 percent points, Mr. Trump won by the aforesaid borderline successful 2020.)

“Something is happening successful South Texas, and galore of america are waking up to the information that the values of those successful Washington, D.C., are not our values, not the values of astir Texans,” Mr. Guillen told reporters during his announcement. “The ideology of defunding the police, of destroying the lipid and state manufacture and the chaos astatine our borderline is disastrous for those of america who unrecorded present successful South Texas.”

But ideology whitethorn not person been the lone operator of Mr. Guillen’s decision, which came aft Republican-controlled redistricting turned his legislative territory from a Republican-leaning territory into 1 that would astir apt beryllium solidly red.

Mr. Guillen has brushed speech suggestions that helium simply switched parties to enactment successful office, telling reporters that his 2020 triumph arsenic a Democrat showed his allegiance with voters successful the district.

“I person recovered that my halfway beliefs align with the Republican Party,” helium said. “I americium assured that my power contiguous is the close decision.”

Mr. Abbott, for his part, portrayed Mr. Guillen’s flip arsenic inevitable.

“It’s thing that has been, candidly, the worst-kept concealed successful the Capitol,” helium said. “Ryan, we’re gladsome you yet came retired of the closet.”

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