Will the Hispanic right turn last?

Last November, this shift came as a shock. But in retrospect, Democrats should have seen it coming—for a giant blinking red light appeared eight months before Election Day. Just as the 2016 presidential primaries foreshadowed Hillary Clinton’s weakness with white working-class voters—who abandoned her in droves during the primary to insurgent Bernie Sanders, then left the party entirely during the general election—Latino voters’ primary-voting patterns foreshadowed their eventual right turn…

Primary results can be telling of future election trends. Party identification is usually a lagging indicator of electoral performance—people usually start voting for a party long before they change their party registration. For example, though West Virginia was the second-biggest Trump win in the nation, only recently did Republicans become a plurality of registered voters there. Before they officially switch parties in the state’s voter-registration database, then, these voters cross over to vote for candidates they prefer in primaries for the other party.

Will those Latinos who pulled the lever for Trump in 2020 become reliable Republicans? As the country polarizes along lines of educational attainment, places with heavy populations of residents without college degrees are moving toward the GOP—from older suburbs and inner cities to rural areas. In many of these cases, as with South Texan Tejanos, cultural conservatism binds these communities together. Next year, pay attention not only to whether Latino voters vote Republican in the general elections but also to whether they show up in Republican down-ballot primaries in higher numbers than in the past.