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Texans elect the first Republican mayor of McAllen, a majority Latino border city, in 24 years

Business Insider logo Business Insider 6/7/2021 insider@insider.com (Eliza Relman)
Donald Trump riding on the back of a car: Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to media from his car wearing a, "Make America Great Again," hat during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Matthew Busch/Getty Images © Matthew Busch/Getty Images Republican Presidential candidate and business mogul Donald Trump talks to media from his car wearing a, "Make America Great Again," hat during his trip to the border on July 23, 2015 in Laredo, Texas. Matthew Busch/Getty Images
  • Texans elected three new Republican mayors over the weekend, building on the GOP's significant 2020 gains among Hispanic voters.
  • The border city of McAllen, Texas, which is about 85% Latino, elected its first GOP mayor in 24 years.
  • Last year, Trump and the GOP saw a major surge in Latino support in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.
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Texans elected three new Republican mayors in heavily Latino cities over the weekend, building on the GOP's significant 2020 gains among Hispanic voters.

Most notably, the border city of McAllen, Texas, which is about 85% Latino, elected its first GOP mayor in 24 years. Javier Villalobos, a city commissioner and former chairman of the Hidalgo County GOP, won about 200 more votes than Democrat Veronica Vela Whitacre in Saturday's runoff election. Republican mayoral candidates also won their races in Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas.

Last year, Trump and the GOP saw a major surge in Latino support in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, long a Democratic stronghold. While Hillary Clinton won the region by 39 points in 2016, President Joe Biden won it by just 15 points. Latino turnout grew by about 30% in 2020.


Video: Border town in Texas elects Republican mayor (FOX News)

Trump flipped five Latino-majority Texas counties last year, almost doubling his vote count in McAllen, doubling his support in the 94% Latino Zapata County, and sharply boosting his numbers in Hidalgo County, where McAllen, one of the region's biggest cities, is located.

The GOP's gains among Hispanic voters in 2020 wasn't limited to Texas. The party saw a surge of about 8 percent among Latinos in 2020 across a range of states, including Arizona, Florida, New York, California, and Texas. Colombian-American and Venezuelan-American voters moved most sharply to the right, but the increased GOP support came from a range of Latino communities.

There are a slew of likely reasons why Latino voters, particularly women, are swinging towards the GOP. Recent polling and focus groups have found that GOP messaging on immigration and public safety issues was particularly effective among certain Latino communities.

Democratic pollster David Shor has found that Latino voters moved away from Biden and towards Trump when they were reminded of Democrats' positions on immigration policy. Shor and others have also found that Latinos who voted for Clinton in 2016 and Trump in 2020 were much more likely to have conservative views on crime, public safety, and policing. Some experts believe that the GOP's argument that Democratic policies hurt public safety -- and the left's calls to "defund the police" -- helped push many Latino voters to the GOP column last year.

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