Nonpartisan mayoral races don’t usually have large political implications. But Saturday’s win by a Republican in McAllen, Tex., is different, as it confirms that Latino voters are up for grabs.
McAllen has long been a Democratic stronghold. The city, which is 85 percent Hispanic or Latino, has elected Democratic mayors since 1997 and voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in partisan races. In 2016, McAllen voters supported Hillary Clinton by a 40-point margin over Donald Trump. Trump cut that margin by more than half in 2020, and now the approximately 143,000-person city has gone red.
Republicans are naturally crowing over the win while Democrats are playing it down. But both parties know that Latino voters shifted significantly to the right last year, a development that rightly worries Democrats. They depend on winning Hispanics outside of Florida by large margins. Trump would have won Arizona and Georgia had President Biden’s margins among Latinos dropped from about 25 points to 20 points. Democrats are goners throughout the Southwest if Republicans can ever seriously compete for Hispanic voters.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.