The political evolution of Mindy Garcia occurred very slowly, then all at once. Growing up a Democrat in California in the 1980s and 1990s, she was taught voting blue is simply what Latinos do. Every election, Garcia would loyally cast her ballot for the party. But when she was suddenly laid off from work in 2013, the mother of two found herself unable to obtain food stamps because her unemployment benefits were too high. The experience was distressing, and left her distrustful that the Democratic Party, which governs California, had her best interest at heart.
Garcia slowly started feeling drawn to the Republican platform, to its pitch that success wasn’t dependent on anything more than hard work — not even for her, a Mexican American woman from a low-income background. “Hispanics have a mindset that we are the lower class. We are the minorities. We are the ones who are always going to need help from the government. We’re always going to be struggling. That was me,” said Garcia, now 41 and working at an insurance agency in Orange County. She began questioning whether Latinos should vote for people who she believed benefitted from keeping the low-income dependent on the government, leaving fewer resources for middle-income workers like her who needed help only in times of crisis.
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When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, Garcia was immediately hooked. She saw a reflection of herself in Trump and the Republican party: She saw the president as a God-fearing man whose values aligned with her Christian faith, who wanted a better future for children like hers, and who valued hard, smart work. And she felt well received. “The Republican Party is more welcoming,” she said. “They are so excited to see Hispanics coming up.”
The 2020 presidential election will be the first in which Latinos make up the electorate’s largest racial or…