Primarily Democratic Texas border county with 96% Latino population brings in more Republican votes during 2020 election

Biden squeaked ahead of Trump by only five points

STARR COUNTY, Texas – Located just west of Mission, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, Starr County almost went from stark blue to bright red on Election Day.

Democrat Joe Biden won 52% of the vote in Starr County, but President Donald Trump was only five points behind, a much tighter margin than when Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by 58 points in 2016.

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Ross Barrera, the Starr County Republican chair, was skeptical when someone first suggested organizing a Trump Train.

Barrera said he asked, “You think that’ll work here in Starr County? I mean, do we have enough Republicans to do this?”

Yet each time, the “train” got longer.

“Something’s different. People want change, or they love the idea of what Trump has to offer,” Barrera said.

Barrera said those who came out reflected the county’s 96% Latino population. He said he had a cross-section of people asking for Trump campaign signs.

“I had some people come to my house, barely speaking in English, first-generation Americans,” he said. “These are the hardworking folks who are unemployed right now because of COVID.”

When Barrera asked them why they wanted to support Trump, he said they told him they loved America, were very pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and they wanted less government.

Barrera also said a major factor was Starr County’s economy further devastated by the pandemic.

“People want to work. They’re very proud about getting a paycheck,” Barrera said.

Hilda Garza, the Starr County Democratic chair, said it wasn’t a fluke that more Latinos supported Trump, but rather it was bound to happen because of the lack of jobs.

She said it didn’t help that former Vice President Joe Biden made a campaign promise to gradually go from fossil fuels to renewable energy because many Starr County residents have ties to the oil and gas industry.

Garza also pointed out, like other voters, even some Democratic Party officials voted for Trump and Democratic in the down-ballot races. She called it “a rebellious type of vote.”

No longer allowed to vote a straight ticket, Garza said, “It was their way of saying, ‘Pay attention to us. Do not take us for granted.’”

Garza said Starr County, being one of the poorest counties in the nation, deserves economic relief.

She said this should be a wake-up call for whoever finally becomes president, as well as any other elected official, but is seldom heeded.

“Listen to us. We do go out to vote, and we can switch our vote,” Garza said. “We have that choice. We have that option.”

About the Authors

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

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