By Alex Gonzalez
There is a new found love for the Hispanic surname in South Texas, mostly by Republicans. While the Party wrestles on how to woo Latino voters and tame the Tea Party rhetoric regarding Immigration, a new trend in South Texas shows that voters are opting for a Hispanic surname Candidate during election. This is putting both parties on alert. In the 2014 Primaries, “more than two dozen counties voted for the Candidate with a Hispanic surname in record numbers, despite that these candidates were unfunded.” The Hispanic surname candidates even defeated the Anglo candidate even if they were democrat, as in the case with Davis.
But this trend was also visible in the race for the U.S. Senate where Linda Vega received thousands of votes even though she did not campaign in those counties. Thus, in those counties there was a strong Hispanic surname appeal over the Republican “Anglo” candidates, notwithstanding that fact that Vega did not spend any money or time campaigning in those counties. see tables above
In addition, this year, turnout in both parties was lower than in 2010. About 1.5 million Republicans voted four years but only 1.3 million voted this year. Moreover, voter registration in Texas has actually declined from 4 years ago when a total of “non-suspense” (voters who have not changed address) registered voters was above 13 million. It also shows that the efforts by Democrats to registered more voters have failed. This makes it more vital for both parties to rely on the same voters for a high turnout: if the Republicans want to maintain control, or if the Democrats hope to turn the state blue. As a result, lower turnout and lower voter registrations means that there will be more pressure on both parties to energize the same base. This is probably what Greg Abbott wants to do with Hispanics.
Abbott seems to genuinely want South Texas’ support and, in particular, the support of Hispanic Valley voters. Once again, as he did when he formally announced his candidacy for governor, Abbott made the Valley his first campaign stop after Tuesday’s primary, visiting El Pato restaurant in Edinburg on Thursday. There, he declared that he wanted to beat the 1998 record set by then-Gov. George W. Bush, who earned between 40 and 49 percent of this state’s Hispanic vote on his way to re-election.”
Therefore, the primary result is a warning for Democrats who take Latinos for granted. In reality there are many social conservative Latinos who may oppose Davis’ view on abortion and there are many Latino Democrats that want Hispanic candidates running for top positions. But this Hispanic surname trend in South Texas is also a warning for Republicans–”if demographic is a destiny.” Republicans need to start working on preparing Hispanic Republican candidates to run for higher office, to be “Generals” not just Soldiers, to keep the 40% within reach. Additionally, if Republicans want to, in fact, woo the Hispanic vote and keep it from fleeing to the Democrats, they need to rely less on the “Anglo” senior voting base that continues to decline in voter registration.