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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Academics & Research

UH study dives into how Texas Latinx Republicans are different


Latinx Republicans don't always fit the ideas people have placed on them, according to a new study done by a UH professor and alumnus. | File photo/The Cougar

Latinx Republicans don’t always fit the ideas people have placed on them, according to a new study done by a UH professor and alumnus. | File photo/The Cougar

Republicans may no longer be able to count on the 30 to 35 percent they receive from Latinxs in Texas, according to a new study published by the University.

The study, Six Myths About Texas Latinx Republicans, showed Texas Latinxs vote differently than the majority of their counterparts in other states. While their vote may often be blue in the 49 other states, Texas has the highest amount of red Latinxs in the country.

“Texas Republicans did a good job courting and recruiting Latinx candidates while the Democratic Party was struggling,” said political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus, who helped author the study. “Latinxs also favor some of the values Republicans believe such as small government, a more religious bent, and entrepreneurship.”

Rottinghaus conducted the study with field director for the Harris County Republican Party Rudy Fonseca.

The study was structured around six enduring ideas people have about Latinx Republicans in Texas that weren’t entirely true.

One myth the study detailed was that Latinx Republicans are less conservative than others in their party. While this may have some truth to it, it is not as significant as people may be led to believe.

“Latinx Republicans are more likely to self-identify as ‘somewhat conservative’ than all Republicans grouped together (about a 10 percent gap) but less likely to identify as ‘extremely conservative’ – 37 percent of all Republicans describe themselves this way compared to 19 percent of Latinx Republicans,” the study said.

President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about illegal immigration, especially concerning Latinx individuals may lead some to believe Latinx Republicans will become more moderate in their political stance. Latinx Republicans instead have shifted their views to become more conservative, according to the study. More Latinx Republicans identified as ‘extremely conservative’ in 2018 than previously in 2016.

This may make some Democrats worried about the possibility of Texas becoming a battleground state in the future, but Rottinghaus believes Texas will eventually be perpetually purple.

“Texas is already competitive (purple) but given the dynamics in the state, it is more likely to be a perpetual swing state like Florida or Georgia rather than a blue state like California,” Rottinghaus said.

The study also touches on whether Latinx feel welcomed in the Republican party and if they are ‘softer’ on illegal immigration than the rest of their party. Generally, they do feel welcomed in the party, but when it comes to views on illegal immigration Latinx Republicans lean more toward a Democratic standpoint.

“Only 19 percent of Latinx Republicans strongly agreed that undocumented immigrants should be deported immediately compared to 35 percent of all Republicans,” the study said.

The study began while Fonseca was still Rottinghaus’ student at UH and they both were wondering why Texas Latinxs were different, the professor said.

“Working with motivated students is its own reward and it was fantastic to get to work with Rudy on a project,” Rottinghaus said. “We both had a puzzle about why Latinos supported the Republican Party in larger percentages than in other states.  As Texas becomes more competitive, we both saw this was an important question.”

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