Saturday, November 28, 2020

Reasonable Speculation

When it comes to criticizing Barack Obama as patronizing or as injurious to the (political) health of down-ballot Democrats, I picked the "1" at the deli counter- first in line. But when he's right, he's right, and he may have been when he stated

People were surprised about a lot of Hispanic folks who voted for Trump. But there are a lot of evangelical Hispanics who — the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans or puts detainees and undocumented workers in cages — they think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on same-sex marriage or abortion.

This seems to have evoked some bad feelings, for as Eugene Scott of The Washington Post maintains

The truth is that it’s still not clear how evangelical Hispanics went about choosing their candidate, because exit polls and data are still being analyzed. But Obama’s words are being interpreted by religious conservatives as the latest example of the left not understanding this voting bloc, which is more ideologically and religiously diverse than many of those opining about their politics seem to understand. And that could cost the Democratic Party more support with one of the largest voting blocs in the country.

As Scott notes, "it's still not clear how evangelical Hispanics went about choosing their candidate." However, we do know at least two prominent Republicans are wrong because the BBC reports

Republican pollster Frank Luntz tweeted of Mr Obama's comments: "This is lazy analysis which likely will become the conventional wisdom of his followers: 'People who don't support us are bigots.'"

Steve Cortes, a Trump 2020 campaign adviser, said Mr Obama had insulted Latinos.

The Hispanic political strategist tweeted: "As important as life issues are, the economic factors drove most working-class voters to Trump, including Latinos."

No, Obama did not say those individuals are "bigots." Democrats have been tarred by Republicans for decades as elitists contemptuous of the faith of Christians. Republicans have sought support of Latinos, traditionally Catholic but in increasing numbers evangelical Protestant. Now that Donald Trump, presiding over a terrible economy but posing as a religious convert, has increased the GOP share of the Latino vote, Republicans complain that Barack Obama must not say that Hispanics vote for Republicans because of shared moral principles.

As political scientists, pundits, and journalists have long pointed out, white evangelicals are significantly more conservative toward same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and other issues once labeled "family values" than are the less religious. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2014 found much the same about Hispanics/Latinos, in that

Hispanics tend to be more conservative than the general public in their views on abortion. While 54% of U.S. adults say that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances, just four-in-ten Hispanics take this position.

But Latino religious groups differ markedly in their views about abortion. Most Latino evangelical Protestants (70%) say that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances, as do 54% of Latino Catholics. Latino mainline Protestants are closely divided, with 45% saying abortion should be mostly legal and 46% saying it should be mostly illegal. And a majority of religiously unaffiliated Hispanics (58%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion among Hispanic evangelical Protestants are similar to those among white (non-Hispanic) evangelicals, 64% of whom say that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances. Hispanic Catholics are more inclined than white Catholics to say that abortion should be illegal (54% vs. 44%). Hispanic mainline Protestants are also more inclined than white mainline Protestants to say that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances (46% vs. 31%).13 The belief that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases is more common among those who attend religious services at least once a week.

The real answer, of course, is that we still don't know exactly why Donald Trump has attracted more Latinos than his rhetoric or policy has warranted. Barack Obama's remark was strategically unwise (and politically incorrect) because it was easily, perhaps intentionally, misinterpreted. And Republicans are always anxious to pose as victims, in this case falsely claiming that their supporters are being tagged with bigotry. Guilty consciences are unattractive.


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