Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

El Cuento del Destino: Latino Voters, Demographic Determinism, and the Myth of an Inevitable Democratic Party Majority

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According to the “demography as destiny” theory, growing minority populations (which predominantly support Democrats) and the declining White population (which mostly votes Republican) will move politics and policy in more progressive directions. Latino voters are central to this account, but our critical analysis argues that such demographic determinism, which we call el cuento del destino, should be reconsidered. First, we argue that an overinvestment in the demography as destiny narrative causes distortions in party strategies; Democrats have been overconfident, and Republicans underconfident, about their abilities to secure the support of Latino voters. We examine trends in Latino voting behavior and partisan affiliation during and after the Trump years to show how the demographic narrative drives both parties to adopt suboptimal electoral strategies. Second, this narrative may also have implications for democracy itself, because misunderstandings about demographic determinism have led some Republicans to mistakenly worry that free and fair elections will inevitably lead to their party's electoral oblivion. Third, we interrogate the assumptions of the demography as destiny narrative, arguing that the political implications of Latino population growth are unclear and that the nature of Latino identity remains an open question. We conclude by describing the likely future of the Latino electorate as one characterized by growing partisan and political heterogeneity—including greater support for conservative politics—and suggest how the field of Latino politics might better understand such dynamics.


© The Author(s) 2024.

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Political Science Quarterly