EVANSVILLE – Polling in Texas consistently shows a tightening race in the Lone Star State. The president still leads in Texas, but not for reasons Republicans usually lead in Texas. Compared to generations of prior Republicans, Trump lags in the suburbs and among whites. So where is the corresponding increase in support for the president that buoys him despite those declines?

It is among Mexican-Americans.

This is not as counterintuitive as it may seem; Hispanics show increasing alignment with the emerging right-populism. 

Look to the Florida 2018 outcomes, driven in large part by Hispanic voter behavior, especially among Puerto Ricans, the left did not expect. Look to the (in)famous Telemundo snap poll that showed its Spanish-language viewers as the only group of Americans to think the President did great in his first 2020 debate performance. And in Texas, the all-Democrat, all-Mexican-American Laredo is a vast reservoir of prospective Trump voters.

For several months Democratic messaging branded Donald Trump with caudillismo: the theme that the incumbent president is a strongman who gets things done. That may turn off suburban voters, but it is attracting more Hispanics.

These changes point to a larger political realignment and evidence that class drives events more than race or ethnicity. The Republican coalition continues evolving into a revival of its original contours of the 1850s, with national-greatness and free-labor concerns at the fore. The president is a consequence, rather than a cause, of this change.

Smart political strategists will soon realize that replacing college-educated whites with working-class Mexicans is not a one-to-one proposition — in part because the latter group tends to become the former within three generations. 

Nevertheless, the trend will continue. Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania in 2016 in large part because Barack Obama’s 2012 total of 96% of Philadelphia’s Black vote dropped to a mere 89%. Trump may over-perform with Black men in 2020 — though not with Black women — and the appeal again appears to be on class grounds. 

If the contest between right and left in 2020s America is a contest between a class-based reckoning advanced by the former, and a race-based reckoning advanced by the latter, then we are in for tumultuous times. 

Claybourn is a Republican attorney from Evansville.