Posted on March 2, 2020

Texas Latinos, Usually Conservative Democrats, Might Swing to Sanders

Elizabeth Findell, Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2020

Flor Martinez has spent most afternoons for the past couple of weeks walking the neighborhoods of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, knocking on doors and asking Democratic voters, mostly in Spanish, to support Bernie Sanders for president.

Ms. Martinez spent the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential primary doing the same thing. But this year is different, she said. More people know who the Vermont senator is. More of them sound interested in his views. She said Mr. Sanders’ recent momentum in other states will help him get a second look from more voters in a community that has historically voted for moderates, not democratic socialists.

Campaigns are working hard this year to court Latino voters, particularly in Texas, where since 2018 the majority of Democratic registered voters are Hispanic, according to data collected by Univision. Latino turnout in those midterms was nearly double the previous cycle in several states and helped the party gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

{snip} In 2016, when Mr. Sanders was running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, he fared worse in heavily Hispanic border counties than in Texas overall, which Mrs. Clinton won in a landslide.

That may change this year, after Mr. Sanders won Nevada in large part by winning the most Hispanic votes, according to caucus polls. Latino voters are critical to his hopes of winning Texas, the second-most populous state voting in Super Tuesday after California.

A poll from Progress Texas conducted last week found Mr. Sanders with 27% support among Hispanic Democrats, compared with 23% for former Vice President Joe Biden. Among Texas Democrats overall, the two were tied.


Still, other border voters said they doubted many Texas Latinos would fully back Mr. Sanders. Adam Azua, 38, said the people he knows who vote regularly are older, Catholic Latinos who care about helping minorities but are more conservative than other Democrats. Jose Moreno, 75, agreed.


Most state-level elected Democrats have endorsed Mr. Biden. He is also the preferred candidate of political groups Latino Victory Fund and Tejano Democrats.