Republicans surpass 4 million voter contacts in Texas

Seeking to capitalize on its inroads with Latinos in 2020, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has made a concerted attempt at outreach with 21 Hispanic community centers across the country — each with its own staffer, hired from within the community and tasked with recruiting and training local volunteers. Four of those Hispanic community centers are in Texas — opened last year in Laredo, San Antonio, McAllen and Houston, respectively — where the heavily Hispanic south Texas region shifted significantly toward Trump during the last election cycle.

The strategy is already seeing returns: With more than 30 full-time staff — and upwards of 17,000 volunteers — on the ground across the state, the RNC surpassed 4 million voter contacts in Texas this past weekend. By Election Day, that number is projected to sit at seven times the number of voter contacts Republicans made in the last midterm cycle four years prior, a GOP aide on the ground in Texas told me. In the 90 percent Hispanic Cameron County, Republican turnout has increased by 137 percent since 2018. The 95.4 percent Hispanic Webb County saw an 87 percent increase and the 91.87 percent Hispanic Hidalgo County saw an 84 percent increase over the same period.

Across south Texas, the GOP has made significant gains with Hispanic voters over the course of the past few years. Five of the six largest Democrat-to-Republican county-level shifts from 2016 to 2020 occurred in South Texas, and — while Joe Biden still carried most of the region by healthy margins — all four of the counties in the 91.5 percent Hispanic Rio Grande Valley shifted toward Trump by upwards of ten points: In Starr County, the former president bested his 2016 performance by an earth-shattering 55 points. 

Other elections point to GOP inroads down-ballot, too. In 2021, McAllen — an 85 percent Hispanic city of 142,000, located just eleven miles from the Mexico border — elected its first Republican mayor in more than two decades, by a razor-thin margin of just 206 votes. (I sat down with the mayor, Javier Villalobos, in his McAllen law office last week to chat about his perspective on the state’s immigration politics). And this June, Mayra Flores, a Mexican-born Republican, won a special election in the state’s 34th congressional district — which stretches from the Mexico border up to San Antonio — by more than seven and a half points. It was a dramatic reversal: Two years prior, Joe Biden carried the district by four points, and its incumbent Democratic congressman carried it by 13.6. 

Three Hispanic Republican women — Flores, Monica De La Cruz, and Cassy Garcia, referred to as Las Tres Chingonas by local Republicans — are on the ballot in traditionally blue, but increasingly GOP-friendly congressional districts this November. I attended a rally for Garcia, who’s running in the state’s 28th congressional district, in Laredo this Sunday. “I think people are excited,” she told me. “People are ready for a better way forward for this district, and I feel like I’m prepared and ready to provide a new voice for them in D.C.” 

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