Most Latinos voted for Democrats in last week’s elections. But Republican support among Hispanic voters has grown by 10 points since 2018, continuing a dozen-year trend of America’s largest ethnic minority group drifting in a more politically conservative direction. Though this shift has engendered much Democratic finger-pointing about potentially off-putting messaging (e.g., promotion of the term “Latinx”) and lack of outreach, the primary cause may be much simpler: namely, the rapidly improving socio-economic position of Latinos in America.
Latinos’ life expectancy in the U.S. exceeds that of whites by about three years. In the five years prior to the pandemic, Hispanic median household income grew more than twice as much as whites.
It follows that, just as people rarely consider quitting jobs or divorcing spouses that they like, they find political change unappealing when they are satisfied with their life situation. Political conservatism means just that — maintaining institutions and traditions — which helps explain why the wealthy vote more conservatively than the poor and the oppressed, who understandably long for change. There are certainly many Hispanic Americans who are poor and oppressed, but there’s considerable evidence that many are doing better than ever.
Start with health and upward mobility. Latinos’ life expectancy in the U.S. exceeds that of whites by about three years. In the five years prior to the pandemic, Hispanic median household income grew more than twice as much as whites and faster than Black and Asian Americans as well.