Democrats Struggle to Attract Latino Votes (Will They Close the Border Now?)
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) last week announced “Adelante” – a new outreach program to court Latino voters ahead of midterms. The program’s outreach efforts will include a significant investment in Spanish-language print and radio ads across multiple swing states as well as door-to-door campaigning.
“Through the leadership of Democrats, we’ve ushered in a historic economic recovery and we’re committed to continuing to deliver results for the Latino community and moving forward together to build a better America,” said DNC Chairwoman Jaime Harrison.
Adelante was launched in part as a response to a December report showing Hispanics almost evenly split when voting in a mock 2024 election between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. And as Democrats have started to realize, the report is indicative of a much larger shift among Hispanics from the Left to the Right.
“What we saw during the 2020 election cycle was a Hispanic shift to the GOP in larger numbers than ever before, so we are looking to make further effort with these communities for everyone to realize, at the end of the day, Hispanics and Republicans have a common ideology,” explains Macarena Martinez, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Texas.
Additional studies suggest Latino voters are growing increasingly frustrated with Democratic policies and, as their identity as immigrants fades into the past, are starting to flock to the Right. As reported by CNN, up to 60% of US-born Latinos identify as “White Hispanics” on census surveys.
The 2020 presidential election saw Trump win 38% of the Latino vote – that’s the highest percentage for a GOP candidate since 2004. Trump was also popular among Latino-majority communities in Texas; especially border cities struggling with the constant arrival of immigrants. Starr County, TX, which boasts the highest proportion of Hispanics in the continental US, reported a massive shift of 55% in terms of Democrat to GOP voting from 2016 to 2020.
“What we saw last cycle is the Democrats launched an extremely aggressive defund the police, anti-law-and-order narrative, which does not appeal to Hispanics and especially does not appeal to Hispanics down at the border whose family members or cousins are Customs and Border Patrol agents, whose family are officers.”
Other factors pushing Latinos away from the Democratic Party include abortion (most Latino voters are Catholic and therefore pro-life) and the trend towards socialism (which is scaring away voters with Cuban and Venezuelan heritage). According to a CBS poll conducted in February, more than 50% of Latino voters are disappointed in the Biden Administration’s actions regarding immigration and inflation.
“Something is happening in South Texas, and many of us are waking up to the fact that the values of those in Washington, DC, are not our values, not the values of most Texans,” explains Ryan Guillen, a Texas lawmaker from the Rio Grande Valley who recently left the Democratic Party to join the GOP. “The ideology of defunding the police, of destroying the oil and gas industry, and the chaos at our border is disastrous for those of us who live here in South Texas.”
Nearly 40% of the nationwide increase in eligible voters since 2000 has been Hispanic, making this demographic a prime target for both parties ahead of midterms.
The RNC is courting Latino voters by building “community centers” that will give residents a much-needed place to gather for movies, religious services, and other activities as pandemic fears continue to subside. At least four centers have been erected in Latino-dominant areas of Florida and Texas thus far including McAllen, a historically Democratic border city in Texas that elected a Republican Latino mayor last year.
Seeking to utilize the Latino vote to help retake control of Congress this year, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in April announced “Vamos,” an initiative that will include canvassing, door-knocking, targeted programming, and other strategies to impact elections in battleground states including Arizona, Nevada, and Florida.
“The most important thing to me that Republicans need to do is get out and talk to Hispanics across the country and listen to them,” said Florida Senator Rick Scott (R). “And don’t do it in the last four weeks of a race, but do it your entire race. And you’ll hear what they care about. Scott, former Governor of Florida, won 45% of the Latino vote in 2018 wen he defeated incumbent Governor Bill Nelson.