The Latinx vote is once again in the spotlight

map of the United States with red and blue dots covering it
Is the Latinx electorate shifting to the left or right?
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times )

In the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, my colleagues Mariel Garza and Gustavo Arellano wrote stories about Donald Trump earning a larger share of the Latinx vote than expected. In their pieces, Garza and Arellano argued that this development shouldn’t have been a surprise.

Latinxs, after all, are not a monolith.

“Really,” wrote Garza, “we have to go through this again, explaining that Latinos are a racially, culturally, socioeconomically diverse group of people with a wide range of hopes and dreams and political leanings and not a uniform voting bloc?”

Nearly two years later, it appears that the political media have finally caught on.

Here we are on the heels of midterm elections, and Latinxs are this cycle’s most fashionable swing voters. In recent days, stories about Latinx voters have appeared in outlets such as Vox and FiveThirtyEight.

As New York Times reporter and friend of the newsletter Jennifer Medina pointed out in a recent episode of “The Daily” podcast, Latinx voters could decide two Senate races — Nevada and Arizona — and more than a dozen competitive House races.


It’s encouraging to see the way in which Latinx voters are talked about has shifted in a direction that offers more nuance. After all, we are talking about more than 32 million people spread across the country (albeit with heavy concentrations in places like California, Texas and Florida). The issues motivating a Mexican American voter in the Rio Grande Valley to cast her ballot one way might not be the same for a Cuban American voter in southern Florida.

Arguably the biggest benefit of less coverage that paints Latinxs as a monolithic voting bloc is that it serves as a great wake-up call for both parties to stop taking us for granted.

For too long, Latinxs were seen as reliable voters for the Democrats. Demographics are destiny, they would say.

But the 2020 election challenged that notion. So has a recent NBC News-Telemundo poll, which found that 54% of Latinxs said they preferred for the Democrats to control Congress versus 33% who said they wanted a Republican-led Congress. This is a 20-point shift from 2012.

The silver lining for Democrats is that the majority of Latinxs still favor them, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. A New York Times/Sienna College poll also found that although the Democratic Party was doing worse with Latinx voters, the majority of them were still out of the GOP’s reach.

I have no idea what’s going to happen in November. Latinxs could help maintain the status quo or they could give Republicans control of the House and/or the Senate. The only certainty I have is that Latinxs are currently swing voters and will continue to be for many elections to come.

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Things we read this week that we think you should read

— Bad Bunny closed out the U.S. leg of his tour by performing back-to-back nights at SoFi Stadium. Times music critic Mikael Wood was there to review the show many of us wish we had attended.

What I’ve been watching: One of my favorite TV shows in recent years is FX’s “Reservation Dogs,” a dramedy about a group of Indigenous kids in Oklahoma. One of the major themes of the second season, which recently concluded, is dealing with grief and loss. In an essay for VICE, The Times’ head of creator content Angie Jaime writes about how the show helped her heal after the death of her father.

Great British Babosadas: On Tuesday night, “The Great British Bake Off” aired its Mexican Week-themed episode and just yikes. The show was quickly called out on social media for its bad jokes and use of stereotypes. How bad was it? You can see for yourself by following this Twitter thread. In one bit the two hosts jokingly ask if Mexico is a real place, which is surprising given that it was in Mexico where Diego Armando Maradona single handedly defeated the English national team at the 1986 World Cup. I would think that the British would remember the location of one of their most embarrassing defeats.

For more on this controversy, head over to NPR where the homie Pablo Valdivia has you covered.

It’s Taco Week over at Texas Monthly, and senior editor Jack Herrera wrote about his complicated feelings about the food’s ubiquitous embrace by America.

“Americans can love Mexican food but hate Mexican people,” he writes. “The same kids I knew at school who used words like ‘beaner’ would also talk excitedly about where to buy the best burritos in town.”