As the American political landscape has become more polarized in recent years, two states have been at the forefront of a lot of right-wing policy and rhetoric.
Texas and Florida, both helmed by Republican governors and both with high profile lawmakers in Washington, represent two different versions of this country’s political future — at least according to Luisita Lopez Torregrosa.
Torregrosa is an author and a former editor at The New York Times, who recently explored the far right axis in Texas and Florida in an article for the Texas Observer.
Torregrosa said that one of the differences between the two states is they have different legacies of conservatism.
“Texas has been Republican, committed Republican for far longer,” she said. “Florida is solidly Republican now, but Florida, in fact, voted twice for Barack Obama. It did go for Trump in 2016 and that began the Republican inroads.”
In terms of similarities, both Texas and Florida are fast growing and have powerful congressional delegations in D.C. Both states also have a large influx of out-of-state migrants moving in, and large Latino populations. However, Torregrosa said it would be a mistake to think of the Latino communities in Texas and Florida as similar or as monolithic.
“The Latino population in both states is different. In Florida … and this is fairly general, but more or less in Florida, you have a population of Latinos who come from the middle class,” she said. “Professionals, business people who leave their countries like Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, and, of course, principally Cuba, because they are good at getting away from socialist governments and also from bankrupt economies and corruption in their own countries.”
In Texas, she said, it’s a different story.
“In Texas, Latinos, and I think the word ‘Latinos’ is not precise enough, but anyway, Latinos constitute 40% of the population of Texas,” she said. “Yet Latinos in Texas have far less political power and economic power than Latinos in Florida. Latinos (in Texas) tend to vote Democratic, and they did in 2022. But less and less and more and more are turning to Republicans.”
And while Texas is a Republican stronghold — and Torregrosa expects it to remain so for a long time to come — there is more of a chance for Texas to turn purple than Florida, she said.
“The growth of Texas, the economic growth is enormous. It’s attracting hundreds and thousands of people from other states, especially California, and also is attracting (a lot of) tech industry, as we all know about Austin and other parts of Texas. The talent that comes with those industries, they tend to move to cities,” she said. “So with these people coming in, there is more of a chance of things becoming a little bit less red and more purple. But that is going to be a very gradual change. Right now, I don’t even see that happening. But I know that it has the potential to happen.”