The GOP built on the party’s inroads with Latinos this cycle as it courted the vote with messages on the economy and public safety.
Democrats carried Hispanic voters nationally by 21 percentage points, according to national exit polling. They also carried black voters by an overwhelming margin overall.
But Republicans did improve Hispanic support by 8 points compared to the last midterm cycle. With Hispanic men, the GOP went from losing the group by 29 percentage points in 2018 to losing them by just 8 percentage points this cycle, according to a comparison of CNN exit polls.
The trend reflects a gradual chipping away at a key component of the Democrats’ minority base.
“The changes in voting patterns tend to be pretty incremental. They go slowly,” Jim Hobart, partner at Public Opinion Strategies, told the Washington Examiner. “For all the focus on Democrats doing better in the suburbs once [former President Donald] Trump was in office, that trend had started a while back.”
“You’re starting to see that with Republicans with minority voters,” Hobart added. “It takes time, though there’s no doubt that the trends are in progress.”
In many places, the inroads weren’t enough to overcome a poor showing for Republicans in battleground seats.
Republicans had high hopes for a trio of congressional seats in South Texas, where they believed their growing appeal among Hispanic voters could help them unseat two Democratic incumbents and hold on to a newly won Republican seat.
GOP Rep. Mayra Flores, who had clinched a Rio Grande Valley seat in a special election just five months before the midterm elections, lost to Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who ran in her new district after the Texas map was redrawn.
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar survived a strong challenge from Cassy Garcia, another GOP Latina party leaders believed could help rebrand the party as a member of Congress.
Only one of the three Republican congressional hopefuls, Monica De La Cruz, won in the contested South Texas House races.
Ultimately, Gabe Sanchez, vice president of BSP Research, told the Washington Examiner that despite the gains made with Latinos, Republicans’ performance should have been stronger.
“Long story short of, ‘Did they do well or not,’ if you take Florida out of the equation … they’ve got to be really disappointed,” Sanchez said, speaking about Republicans. “They should have done at least 10 percentage points better with Latinos.”
The GOP performance in Florida was indeed a bright spot.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won a resounding victory in heavily Hispanic Miami-Dade County, winning by 11 percentage points in a county Trump lost by 7 in 2020.
An analysis by the Miami Herald found DeSantis swept a number of majority-Hispanic precincts and that more Latino voters in Florida said they had been contacted by the Republican Party than Latino voters in any other state surveyed.
The Republicans’ appeal to black voters remained relatively low this cycle.
Democrats won black women by 78 percentage points and black men by 65 percentage points in 2022, representing only a modest gain with black voters for Republicans over their 2018 showing.
Hobart said the GOP doesn’t need to move the needle with black voters too much to make a difference for their electoral fortunes to improve.
“Democrats are going to continue to win the African American vote for the foreseeable future,” he said. “You take a look at a state like Georgia. If Republicans go from getting 10% of the African American vote in Georgia to 15%, that changes the entire electoral map.”