Like a lot of Latinas in Texas, Marcela Andrés found the news coverage of both suburban women voters and Latinos this election season tiresome.
That’s because, once again, election coverage of Latinos was less than nuanced and more of the one-size-fits-all variety she has come to know.
Watching from her home in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, Andrés is of both Cuban and Mexican descent. A native Texan, Andrés noticed a certain degree of cultural insensitivity in the post-election analysis, where assumptions were made that all Latinas were conservative and voted for President Donald Trump. In reality, Latinos voted in large numbers for both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“How dare [they] categorize my way of thinking or feeling, with one group of people who has been put in this box?,” she said.
Andrés is a member of one of the fastest-growing groups in Texas. She’s also college educated with a master’s degree from Harvard University.
Elsewhere, suburban Latinas in Texas expressed surprise at the one-size-fits-all message from both political parties.
Alejandra Rodriguez Boughton, the owner of a suburban organic farm west of Austin, said she felt abandoned during this last presidential election.
“I don’t feel there is too much outreach going on to make authentic relationships with the Latino community,” said Rodriguez Boughton. And her criticism was directed at both major parties.
She was disheartened to see how Republicans assumed Texans would vote for Trump simply because Texas is the reddest of red states. For their part, Democrats assumed Texans would vote for Biden even without Biden caring enough to make an appearance here.
Is it too much to ask of candidates to provide a more tailored platform and message to suburban Latinas?
“No”, said Valerie Martinez Ebers, a political science professor and the director of the Latino and Mexican American Studies program at the University of North Texas. “[Candidates] need to start from a position of being culturally sensitive.”
Martinez Ebers said that’s exactly why it is so important for political campaigns and the parties they represent, to develop relationships earlier with potential voters.
Suburban Latinas’ lists of priorities includes things other women want: accessible healthcare, education, safe neighborhoods and help for their businesses because “a lot of Latinas own their own businesses.”
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Valerie Martinez Ebers’ name. It was originally spelled Eavers.