The best part here is when he marvels at Latinos’ willingness to support a president who would put illegal immigrants in cages.
Does this guy not remember who built those cages? And who put kids in them?
He remembers. He’s just hoping you don’t.
This clip strikes me as a modern twist on two arguments from yesteryear, one made famous by Obama himself. Listen for 30 seconds, then read on.
Obama on @breakfastclubam: “… There’s a lot of evangelical Hispanics who, the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans, or puts undocumented workers in cages, they think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion.” pic.twitter.com/8OpocwYrLV
— The Recount (@therecount) November 25, 2020
That reminds me of the old Republican line that Latinos are natural conservatives because of their religious devotion, they just don’t know it yet. They finally figured it out in 2020, Obama seems to think. But it also reminds me of his “bitter clinger” point from the 2008 campaign. In that case he was speculating on why working-class voters in deindustrialized parts of the midwest vote the way they do. They get bitter about their economic hardships, he reasoned, and so they cling to guns or religion or xenophobia towards immigrants. What he said about Latino voters this morning echoes that: Once again, according to O, we have a group being steered by religion towards voting for the wrong candidates. For a Christian, he sure does seem to think Christianity is a bad influence on politics!
What’s different from the “bitter clinger” remarks this time, though, is the absence of a deeper economic motive. In 2008, he thought underemployed people who let religion guide their politics were channeling their frustration over their financial circumstances. In today’s updated version, he seems to think Latinos come by their religion honestly — but that it’s led them to vote for a pernicious character like Trump just because he tells them what they want to hear on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Which is ironic, because the conventional wisdom since Election Day on why Trump made such impressive gains with Latinos across the map is that his working-class appeal helped win some voters over. That is, their financial circumstances informed their vote. So why is that motive absent in this version of the “bitter clinger” story?
A New York Times reporter was taken aback:
I've interviewed 100+ Hispanic evangelicals in the last year. It's true that their religious beliefs are often more important than ethnic identity. But almost none talk about gay marriage.
Why would Obama make such a questionable sweeping statement that alienates so many? https://t.co/b6HtmGlzTK
— Jennifer Medina (@jennymedina) November 25, 2020
Also, what makes O think that abortion and gay marriage would suddenly be hugely salient issues for Latino voters in 2020 when there’s little evidence that they drove votes in the last few elections? He himself crushed Romney among Latinos in 2012 despite being pro-choice and (by then) pro-SSM:
Obama carried Hispanic evangelicals by 11 points in 2012. Clinton carried them by 13 points in 2016. pic.twitter.com/cQnWJTnZUA
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) November 25, 2020
Trump has never been outspoken against gay marriage, and in fact is certainly the most gay-friendly nominee in the history of the GOP. Latinos aren’t strongly opposed to gay marriage, either. Last year a Pew poll found 58 percent support among the group for the practice, just a few points below whites. As for abortion, while it’s true that Hispanics are more likely to be pro-life than other groups, they’re not overwhelmingly pointed in that direction. In 2019 PRRI found them split 45/48 overall, with 59 percent of Latinos born in the U.S. in favor of legal abortion.
If Obama wants to chalk up Latino voting patterns this year to social conservatism he needs to explain what changed. What changed to make Hispanic voters suddenly so attuned to abortion and gay marriage as to produce shifts like this in places as disparate as New Jersey, California, Florida, and Texas?
I picked out a few… The Hispanic swing toward Trump happened across the map… From MA to CA to TX to FL… pic.twitter.com/8DoPGic8TI
— (((Harry Enten))) (@ForecasterEnten) November 25, 2020
Lefty polling expert David Shor had an interesting theory of why Trump overperformed among Latinos. It’s not a religious thing, it’s a class and culture thing. I wonder why this explanation might sit uneasily with a highly educated progressive-minded figure like Obama:
There is a broader trend, though, that as college-educated white people become a larger share of the Democratic coalition and a larger share of the Democratic voice, they do pull the party on cultural issues. Non-college educated white people have more culturally in common with working-class Black and working-class Hispanic voters. So, it should be unsurprising that as the cultural power of college-educated white people increases in the Democratic Party, non-white voters will move against us.
Toss in progressives’ ruinous infatuation with socialism and their sloganeering about defunding the police and you have a much more plausible hypothesis to account for Latinos shifting towards Republicans. Despite Democrats’ best efforts to organize Hispanic voters along identity-politics lines in hopes that racial consciousness would bind them monolithically to liberals in opposition to “the white party,” more Latinos are voting their wallets and taking a hard look at which party is more in sync with their cultural beliefs, not just their religious beliefs. Obama is bitterly clinging to religion as a theory instead because that lie is easier for Democratic leaders to digest than the truth.