On the House side, Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, who represent two of Texas’ deeply Hispanic border districts, came away with wins after difficult challenges from Republican Latina opponents. Republican Monica De La Cruz was the sole Latina in the region to secure a seat, winning a redrawn district by 9 points.
Gonzalez defeated GOP Rep. Mayra Flores, whose usual bold posts promising great returns for the Republican Party in South Texas were traded in after the election for a statement with an accusatory tone.
“The RED WAVE did not happen,” Flores wrote after midnight on election night, blaming Republicans and Independent voters for staying home. “Do not complain about the results if you did not do your part!” she added in capital letters.
Experts said both parties have the potential to build on these results with Latinos in 2024 if they’re willing to put in the work.
“Republicans should not be pleased with their performance,” said Gabe Sanchez, vice president of BSP Research. He added the GOP did not pick up nearly as many House seats yet as projected earlier, partially because the Latino gains they predicted did not materialize. “And although it was a relatively good night for Democrats, I don’t think they can celebrate the numbers that much, either,” Sanchez said.
Black voters maintain heavy support for Democrats
Democratic campaigns and consultants have been fretting over a potential surge of support for conservatives among Black voters this year, or lower turnout in key swing states. In Georgia’s gubernatorial race, Black men were expected to make up a wider gap between incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.
But Abrams still scooped up 90 percent of the Black vote, while running much closer among Latinos and Asians, and Kemp solidly won about three-fourths of the white vote. The numbers were similar to exit polling from their 2018 contest, when Abrams garnered 94 percent of the Black vote, and Kemp similarly won with 73 percent of the white vote.
Overall, Black voters remain the most consistent supporters of Democrats — their vote share dropped 4 points since 2018, and just 1 point since the last presidential election, according to preliminary exit polling.
Woodbury, of HIT Strategies, said he repeatedly warned against Democrats losing traction with Black voters, particularly men. After Election Day played out, he said Abrams and other candidates did do a better job of connecting with male voters of color. According to the organization’s metrics, Black voters have had an enthusiasm boost since July, though Woodbury believes even without that, they would have shown up for Democrats — albeit begrudgingly.
“When we engage [Black voters] the way we engage them, texting them every day … making them feel important and valuable,” Woodbury said, “and then we cut that light switch off immediately and abruptly after Election Day, it lends to a darkness and a cynicism that validates the frustrations they already have.”