Republicans have defeated Democrats in McAllen, Texas with the victory of a GOP candidate for Mayor in the traditionally Democrat city. The runoff victory for Republican Javier Villalobos in the border city is a worrying sign for Democrats as McAllen is overwhelmingly Hispanic. The result continues an emerging trend in Texas of Hispanic voters drifting towards the GOP.
Republican wins narrow victory
Hidalgo County, in which McAllen is located, borders Mexico and has thus developed an overwhelming Hispanic majority.
In past elections the demographics of the county have contributed to easy victory for Democrats. A Republican presidential candidate has not won the county since 1972.
In 2016 Hillary Clinton won the county by more than 40%, matching the enormous margins won by Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.
In 2020, however, Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by a less than 20%. Biden still won the county convincingly, but the decline in Democrat support over the span of just four years was dramatic.
Now, Republican Javier Villalobos has defeated his opponent in an extremely tight election to become the next mayor of McAllen, winning by only 206 votes.
For Texas Republicans the victory is promising evidence that the trend away from Democrats in the border counties is continuing, offering some continued hope in a state which has become increasingly insecure for Republicans.
Democrats face a Hispanic problem in Texas
Local Democrats in part blamed the narrow defeat on the ongoing border situation, which has been particularly impactful for border cities like McAllen.
Democrats have traditionally relied on immigration policy to win over Hispanic voters, but the poor handling of the border situation by the Biden Administration does not appear to be winning much support.
South Texas Hispanics, local Democrats admit, are generally religious and socially conservative. Immigration policy may no longer be enough to outweigh other Democrat priorities and prevent Hispanics from leaning to the Republican Party.
They also admit that the leadership style of Donald Trump likely did much to win over former Democrat voting Hispanics in the border region.
The concern for Democrats who are watching Texas is that these voters may in fact have more in common with the average member of the Trump base than they have with the base of a Joe Biden or Kamala Harris.
Nationally, the future of the Hispanic vote remains unclear. In counties along the border, however, Republicans appear to have found a rare bright spot.