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President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.

President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Yuri Gripas, Abaca Press/TNS)

Most home-school mom co-op conversations don’t delve too deeply into politics.

But when the suddenly astronomical cost of feeding a family of five (or 10, because lots of home-school families are big) occupies an increasing amount of mental energy, not to mention the weekly budget, sometimes the words just spill out.

“It’s all to do with that man in Washington,” one exasperated mom told me.

“That man,” of course, is President Joe Biden, and the mom whose displeasure with our president prompted such an adamant declaration, is a new acquaintance with a gaggle of children to feed.

She also happens to be a Latina.

I mention her ethnicity only because her comments reminded me of recent polling data that found the president’s approval rating to be at its lowest among Hispanic adults. A Quinnipiac University Poll conducted in April found that just over a quarter (26%) believed the president was doing a good job.

When the poll was released, several headlines read like the survey findings were novel. But disappointment in Biden’s policies in this particular demographic is hardly unprecedented.

A PBS/NPR/Marist poll conducted last December — before the war in Ukraine, soaring gas prices and a crisis at the southern border — also found dwindling approval of the president to be lowest among Hispanics. The latest data only serves to show that trend has not only held but declined even further.

To put this in perspective, when Biden took office, his approval among this same demographic was close to 70%.

I am old enough to remember when the conventional wisdom was that the shrinking white and growing Hispanic populations portended certain doom for political conservatives. Demographics is destiny, we were told, and with the Hispanic population booming and others in stasis or contracting, it was only a matter of time before this voting block ensconced a permanent Democratic majority in Washington.

But that thinking relied on two assumptions that have proven incorrect.

The first is that Hispanics reliably vote as a block, when in fact, their electorate is substantially diverse. A voter’s socioeconomic status, level or education and religious affiliation can have a far greater impact on their vote than race or ethnicity. Donald Trump proved this to be the case when he made significant (and sometimes surprising) inroads with Hispanic voters, including in Texas and particularly among the religiously conservative and those who did not have a college degree.

The second, and perhaps more significant, false assumption is that Hispanics are one-issue voters, that all they care about is immigration. According to this thinking, Hispanic voters will support only policymakers who advance progressive immigration policies. But if Biden thinks that ending Title 42, the Trump-era program that allowed the U.S. to turn away migrants at the border on account of the ongoing pandemic, will be his ticket back into the good graces of Hispanics, he is in for a bit of a surprise.

There is plenty of evidence to illustrate a diversity of opinions about immigration policy even within the Hispanic community, including a recent survey by the Texas Public Policy Foundation (a conservative think tank) that found an overwhelming majority of Hispanics support existing border security measures or even stronger ones.

Still, this false narrative that immigration is their primary concern has been a driving force behind both Democratic and Republican political strategies for years, despite the fact that Hispanics have consistently identified immigration in polls as a lower priority than kitchen table issues such as the economy.

Speaking of which, an Axios-Ipsos Latino Poll conducted in March found that inflation was chief among the concerns of Hispanic adults, just like it is for everyone else. Crime was up there, too.

Disapproval ratings for the president of one political party don’t necessarily translate into votes for the other; plenty of people will just not vote altogether. And they don’t necessarily trickle down from federal offices to state and local elections, either. Still, it’s hard to imagine the midterm elections having a good outcome for Democrats.

The widespread disappointment among Hispanics illustrates how little political identities can matter in the real world, where most of us moms — regardless of race or ethnicity — are just trying to educate and feed our kids.

Cynthia M. Allen is a Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist.


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