Rep. Vicente González
Vicente González represents Texas' 34th district, located in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Rep. Vicente González's Facebook page

A Democratic Representative from Texas stirred controversy with the Latino electorate this week after equating the demographic's Donald Trump supporters with Jews who could have voted for Adolf Hitler.

In an interview with The New Republic published earlier this week, Vicente González warned that his party stands at risk of losing support from Latino conservatives as Republicans continue to invest in South Texas, but that the party's anti-immigrant rhetoric is preventing them from making larger gains.

"If they didn't have that racist, divisive element within their party, they would have a lot of Latinos, but they can't seem to shake that off," said González in the interview.

"The rhetoric you hear from the Republican Party is shameful and disgraceful for Latinos. And you know, when you see 'Latinos for Trump,' to me it is like seeing 'Jews for Hitler,' almost, you know?," he added.

Gonzalez represents the state's 34th district, located in the lower Rio Grande Valley, but is facing increasing pressure from Republicans who are investing heavily to unseat him. His main challenger is former Representative Mayra Flores, the first Mexican-born woman to serve in the U.S. Congress after winning a 2022 special election.

A vocal Trump supporter, Flores blasted Gonzalez for his comments, saying they are "incredibly hurtful to our entire Latino community." "While he continues peddling in hate and division, I'm going to focus on policies that uplift our entire community, including lower costs, a secure border, safer communities and a focus on faith, family and more opportunities in South Texas," she added. Other Republican actors and institutions echoed her comments, criticizing the lawmaker for his comments. The National Republican Congressional Committee also called on Gonzalez to apologize.

Gonzalez, however, doubled down on the issue: "It's clearly a vote against self interest. And yes it would be like the Jewish community voting for Hitler before the atrocities he caused. That would never happen. And Latinos need [to] wake up and see a tyrant on the horizon," Gonzalez told The Texas Tribune.

But to Gonzalez's dismay, current trends show Latinos are increasingly shifting to the Republican party, to the point that recent polls have shown Donald Trump ahead of President Joe Biden.

A March survey by The New York Times and Siena College, shows the former president with a six percentage point lead over the current one, 46 to 40% despite Democrats' analysis that Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies would continue to repel Latino voters.

Trump has been steadily gaining support with the Latino electorate during the past decade, increasing from 28% in 2016 to 36% in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2022, Republicans got 39 percent of the Latino vote, the highest percentage since 2004.

A deeper analysis by the Financial Times' John Burn-Murdoch added more evidence to it, looking at data from "America's gold-standard national election surveys" and concluding that "Democrats' advantage among Black, Latino and Asian voters at its lowest since 1960."

Even though the analysis doesn't delve into each demographic in particular, it discusses a "weakening correlation between income and voter choice," as the Republican Party's image of one exclusive for wealthy elites is moving to one that encompasses voters from all income levels and demographics.

But Burn-Murdoch points at a more "ominous" dynamic: "Many of America's non-white voters have long held much more conservative views than their voting patterns would suggest. The migration we're seeing today is not so much natural Democrats becoming disillusioned but natural Republicans realizing they've been voting for the wrong party," he explained.

Community norms have played a role in this, but as they weaken and the U.S. becomes less racially segregated, "the frictions preventing non-white conservatives from voting Republican diminish." This trend could create a "cascade," potentially leading to further defections from Democrats.

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