Ruy Teixeira is a liberal political scientist who has been sounding the alarm for the past decade about Democrats’ problems with Hispanic voters as well as working-class whites. And the state that most personifies the Democrats’ opportunities and challenges with these voters is Nevada.
Nevada is now a majority-minority state that Democrats have been carrying fairly easily in the last four presidential elections. Both United States senators and the governor are Democrats.
But despite the state’s continued, rapid diversification, the margins for Democratic victories have been narrowing.
But hidden in these facts are some troubling signs. Despite rapid diversification, the Democratic margin in Presidential elections from 2008 to 2016 declined sharply from 12.5 to 2.4 points. And in 2020, as the Democrats gained ground in the country as a whole, the Democratic margin in Nevada went from 2.4 points…..to 2.4 points. That means that—again, despite rapid diversification of the electorate—Nevada went from three-tenths of percentage more Democratic than the nation as a whole in 2016 to 2 points more Republican in 2020.
Nevada Hispanics make up 16 percent of the electorate. But the share of Hispanics voting Democrat declined precipitously — eight points between 2016 and 2020. This drop was the result of a loss by Democrats of working-class Hispanics (81 percent of Nevada’s Hispanic voters). “These shifts meant that Hispanics’ contribution to the Democratic margin in Nevada in 2020 actually went down by 2 points,” writes Teixeira.
The upshot is that Democrats like Senator Catherine Cortez Masto are in deep trouble in their re-election efforts.
This helps explain why Democratic strategists are so nervous about Catherine Cortez Masto’s Nevada Senate seat in what is shaping up to be a very difficult Democratic year. They definitely are not feeling the wind at their backs in the state. And they cannot afford to lose the seat if they are to have much of prayer of retaining control of the Senate. They fear, rightly, that this is a state where the Democrats’ Hispanic voter and working class voter problems could combine for a disastrous outcome.
Nevada also has a “socialist problem,” namely, the state party was taken over by the Democratic Socialist Party last year and Republicans are gleefully taking advantage.
The New York Times’ David Leonhardt:
Many were uncomfortable with some Democrats’ openness to socialism…Many agreed with Trump about the importance of border security. Some thought the Democrats ignored actual Latino concerns (as opposed to political activists’ impression of those concerns).
Above all, many Latinos liked Trump’s emphasis on reopening the economy, Equis found. Asked if they approved of his policy of “living without fear of Covid,” 55 percent of Latinos said yes. Even now, with highly effective vaccines and treatments available, some liberal Democrats continue to favor indefinite Covid restrictions.
At least in Nevada, a tipping point may be approaching. Naturally, there are many different Hispanic groups — some more amenable to Trump’s opportunity agenda than others. But if Republicans can shatter the minority monolith where Hispanics vote 70 percent Democrat and blacks vote 90 percent Democrat it would be curtains for Democrats in national elections.