Thursday, September 21, 2023

5 Experts on How Democrats & Republicans Can Win Latino Voters

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Part of The Power and Potential of Latino Voters, from The highlightcafemadrid’s home for ambitious stories that explain our world.

As we discussed in this edition of The Highlight, Democrats and Republicans recognize the urgency of appealing to the burgeoning Latino voter public. And both are still grappling with their recent successes and shortcomings with Latinos — even as they struggle to fulfill their potential in the upcoming midterm exams.

In all of our reporting for this project, some common theories emerged: Republicans feel they have a solid strategy for continuing to eat into Democrats’ victory margins with Latino voters, as they did in the 2020 election, and Democrats. have a few ideas on how to correct their course – mainly by working harder to earn the support of a bloc that many in the party admit they have taken for granted.

We asked politicians, strategists and political scientists from across the political spectrum for their analysis of what their parties have done right and wrong with those voters, and what to do next. Below are their theories, as detailed in interviews and emails with cafemadrid employees.

What Republicans Do Better Than Democrats?

Giancarlo Sopo, Republican | @GiancarloSopo
Communication strategist and founder of Visto Media

Illustrated portrait of Giancarlo Sopo

The Spanish outreach of the Republican National Committee in recent years has been strong – it has made major investments in community centers across the country and they have made very smart staffing decisions.

While Democrats attract Latino talent from liberal organizations, Republicans attract Hispanic staffers and advisers from diverse backgrounds from communities across the country. This dichotomy helps explain why Republicans show much greater cultural fluency and sophistication in their Hispanic reach than Democrats.

It also helps explain why Republicans better understand where most Hispanics are right now. Positioning the GOP as the party of economic prosperity – while at the same time deviating the Democrats from Clintonian “pro-growth” send messages to a Piketty-inspired focus on income inequality and racial equality – is smart when you consider that from 2010 to 2019, the Latin American poverty rate fell by about 40 percent and Hispanics led the country in establishing new small businesses.

In politics you have to meet people where they are, not where you want them to be or where you think they are. Hispanics are upwardly mobile, hardworking and ambitious. We don’t see ourselves as ‘victims’ in this country – quite the contrary. Polls show that Hispanics believe in the American dream and that this is the best country in the world.

To be clear, there is still room for improvement in our Spanish outreach. The biggest mistake Republicans make with Hispanics is not involving us. For example, the GOP was unlikely to ever win the California recall in 2021, but with modest investment, the effort could have reached Spanish voters with a view to the future. That was a missed opportunity.

Democrats need to get over their 2020 hangover

Ruben Gallego, Democrat | @RubenGallego
United States Representative, Arizona’s Seventh District

Illustrated portrait of Ruben Gallego

Democrats get into this loser mentality. It drives me crazy — I just kind of circle the drain, like, “Oh man, we suck. We suck.” No, we won, accept the fact that we won [in 2020]. Governing is difficult. We will have to rule. Could be [moderate Democratic Sens.] Sinema and Manchin are screwing us now. But one or two more senators and we’re in another area.

Even with this thought that we have lost the Latino voice. Everybody calm down. We haven’t lost the Latino voice. We haven’t won that much. That is the difference. We’re not losing the Latino vote. We don’t win by as much as we’d like.

Can we do better now? Absolute. So let’s work on it, right? But let’s not damn ourselves for this: “Oh man, we’re not going to win, and that’s why we’re just not going to invest anymore.” And then we really fail. Because guess what? If you’re not going to invest in Latinos to get you over the hump and African Americans and Asian Americans, are you really going back to white voters who didn’t vote Democrat? I still think it’s important to talk to them, but you can’t give up Latino voters. Because if you do, your task will only get harder and harder.

Democrats can win on policy if they invest in telling Latinos where they stand

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Democrat | @CristinaNextGen
President, NextGen America

Illustrated Portrait of Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez

People always ask me, “Are Latinos Republicans or Democrats?” and I say, ‘We are neither. Were poor.” And I say that anyone who invests in our community and speaks to our pain and power will win our vote.

We are the ethnic group least likely to go to university. Pre-Covid, 60 percent of us were making less than $15 an hour. We are the ethnic group in many states with the highest number of people who are uninsured. The policies and stances Democrats have taken address the greatest amount of pain for the greatest number of Latino families, which is why they overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

The shift [toward Republicans] that you have seen is because the Democrats take the Latino vote for granted. They must invest their resources to reach the Latino population on their stance on the policies most Latinos care about.

The other thing Democrats need to do is invest primarily in young Latinos. The most common age for a white American is 55, for an African American it’s 27. And for Latinos it’s 11. So much of our voting power is realized in young, new voters. That’s a whole population that the Democrats can win, but they have to spend the time and money to reach that electorate, and they can’t just assume it’s coming their way.

The #1 reason Latinos say they don’t vote is that no candidate ever contacted them and they didn’t know who to vote for. The data shows very clearly that there is underinvestment. So there’s a cyclical problem with the Latino population: campaigns and candidates don’t invest in it because they don’t vote, and we go on and on.

Let me give you an example: in South Texas, which is considered a very traditional Latino population, Bernie Sanders won the 2020 Democratic primaries because he spent millions of dollars and time and energy volunteering, going out and reaching out to the Latino population. … Overall, Trump made big gains because the Republican Party spent time and money reaching Latino voters.

I don’t see it as a bad thing that some of the population in our community is up for grabs. I think it’s up to elected officials and the parties to make sure they spend the time and money on our community that we deserve.

Treat Spanish voters like “normies”

Ruy Teixeira, Democrat
Non-resident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of forthcoming book, “Where have all the democrats gone? The soul of the party in the age of extremes

Illustrated portrait of Ruy Teixeira

Democrats would be well served with this population by moving to the center on a variety of sociocultural issues, from crime and immigration to ideological approaches to race and gender, so voters can rest assured that, in fact, everyone is free to believe. what they want to believe. … We are a patriotic party. We believe America is fundamentally good, not a racist country, and generally give a lot of signals like, “Hey, we get it, we understand you are normal voters, we understand what you want. We understand what you’re comfortable with. feels.” And we as Democrats are willing to draw some lines in terms of the need for public safety, in terms of border security, in terms of the need to keep ideology out of schools. We are a tolerant party, but we are not intend to push ideology in such a way that it affects your children or your community or your safety.

I think that would be well received by most Spanish voters, especially working-class Spanish workers. That’s really what they want. They want upward mobility, they want safe communities, they want their children to get a good education, they want good health care.

Which brings me to another point that Democrats should emphasize: what they’re doing in the health care field. I think the unfortunate thing about the Reconciliation Act is that while it had some healthcare stuff in it, it gets lost in all the climate coverage. Climate is a subject that is not very noticeable to voters as a whole, especially Hispanics…although Hispanics, like most other voting groups, are generally in favor of doing something about climate change. But in the real world, when inflation hits them, real wages continue to fall and health care is an even bigger problem, [Democrats should] in any case, emphasize the things that are a material benefit and that solve the real problems that Spanish voters, especially working class voters, have.

3 Keys To Further Republicans Profit With Latinos

Lorna Romero Ferguson, Republican | @LornaRomero
Campaign Strategist and Owner of Elevate Strategies

Illustrated Portrait of Lorna Romero Ferguson

For Republicans to continue making profits with Latinos, I think there are three main strategies forward. First, we must continue to recruit more Republican Latinos to run for office. Representation is important for any minority group. There’s another level of motivation and engagement when someone running for a position comes from your community, understands your culture and upbringing, and has a similar origin story to you. …

Second, hire more Latinos as campaign advisers and official staff. Latino staffers provide critical insight and experience for community engagement. A diverse workforce can better inform candidates and elected officials about effective messaging strategies and help prevent cultural missteps (e.g., First Lady Jill Biden and breakfast tacos).

Third, Latino outreach should be a consistent strategy deployed in non-election years. To build strong and meaningful relationships, Latino reach shouldn’t be an afterthought during a campaign, or something done just to “tick the box.” To gain real traction, outreach efforts and relationship building should be done year round.

I believe Republicans will make gains in certain states this year, but on a national level there is nothing seismic. It will take time to continue building support, but Republicans are making a real effort by opening Latino outreach field offices and building a grassroots network to educate voters about the Republican Party platform. It may not deliver huge results this election cycle, but the party is investing in infrastructure and it will be a game changer for future elections.

Li Zhou contributed to this story.


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