In the lead-up to every election cycle, pundits predict that Latino Americans will overwhelmingly vote in favor of the Democratic candidate. And it’s true—Latino voters do tilt Democratic. Hillary Clinton won the Latino vote in a “landslide,” Barack Obama “crushed” Mitt Romney among Latino voters in his reelection, and, four years earlier, the Democratic ticket beat the McCain-Palin ticket by a margin of more than two to one. But those numbers belie a more complicated picture. Because of decades of investment and political courtship, as well as a nuanced and varied cultural identity, the Republican party has had a much longer and stronger bond with Hispanics. How is this possible for a party so associated with draconian immigration and racial policies?
In The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump
(Ecco, 2020), historian and political commentator Geraldo Cadava
illuminates the history of the millions of Hispanic Republicans who, since the 1960s, have had a significant impact on national politics. Intertwining the little understood history of Hispanic Americans with a cultural study of how post–World War II Republican politicians actively courted the Hispanic vote during the Cold War (especially Cuban émigrés) and during periods of major strife in Central America (especially during Iran-Contra), Cadava offers insight into the complicated dynamic between Latino liberalism and conservatism, which, when studied together, shine a crucial light on a rapidly changing demographic that will impact American elections for years to come.
Tiffany Jasmin González is an AAUW Fellow and Ph.D. Candidate of History at Texas A&M University. Her research centers on the 20th-century US, Latinx history, American politics, social movements, borderlands, and women & gender. Her dissertation,
Representation for a Change: Women in Government and the Chicana/o Civil Rights Movement in Texas. You can follow Tiffany on Twitter @T_J_Gonzalez.