5 experts on how Democrats and Republicans win Latino voters

part of The power and potential of the Latino voterAnd the From determinantVox’s home to the ambitious stories that explain our world.

Like we covered the whole time This edition of The HighlightDemocrats and Republicans recognize the urgency of appealing to the burgeoning Latino electorate. Both are still grappling with their recent successes and shortcomings with Latinos — even as they scramble to harness their potential in the upcoming midterm elections.

A few common theories have appeared throughout our reporting for this project: Republicans feel they have a solid strategy to continue to address Democrats’ winning margins with Latino voters, as they did in the 2020 election, and Democrats have some ideas about how to correct course — primarily by working hard to win the support of their bloc. Many in the party admit they took it for granted.

We asked politicians, strategists, and political scientists from across the political spectrum to analyze what their parties did right or wrong with these voters, and what they should do next. Here are their theories, as shown in interviews and emails with Vox employees.

What do Republicans do better than Democrats?

Giancarlo Sopo, Republican | Tweet embed
Communications Strategist and Founder of Visto Media

Photographed by Giancarlo Sopo

Outreach to Hispanics in the Republican National Committee has been strong in recent years – they have made significant investments in community centers across the country and they have made very smart personal decisions.

While Democrats are attracting Latino talent from liberal organizations, Republicans are attracting Hispanic staff and consultants from diverse backgrounds from communities across the country. This dichotomy helps explain why Republicans show much greater cultural fluency and sophistication in their Hispanic prevalence than Democrats.

It also helps explain why Republicans are better aware of where most Hispanics are at the moment. The Republican Party positioned itself as the party of economic prosperity – while, at the same time, the Democrats were moving away from Clinton ‘pro-growth’ Messages to Piketty-inspired focus On Income Inequality and Racial Equality – This is smart when you consider that from 2010 to 2019, Hispanic poverty fell by about 40 percent and Hispanics led the country In creating a new small business.

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 progressively mobile, hard-working and ambitious. We do not consider ourselves “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 access to Hispanics. The biggest mistake Republicans make with Hispanics is not getting us involved. For example, the Republican Party is unlikely to win the California recall of 2021, but the effort could have had success with Hispanic voters with a focus on the future with modest investments. That was a missed opportunity.

Democrats need to overcome their 2020 hangover

Robin Gallego, Democrat | Tweet embed
Representative of the United States, 7th District of Arizona

Photographed by Robin Gallego

Democrats get into these loser mindsets. It’s weird driving me crazy — just kind of spinning around the drain like, “Oh, man, we suck. We suck.” No, we won, accept the fact that we won. [in 2020]. Judgment is difficult. We have to judge. Can [moderate Democratic Sens.] Cinema and Mansion are fooling us now. But one or two other senators and we’re in a different area.

Even with this thinking we lost the Latin vote. Everyone calm down the fuck. We didn’t lose the Latin vote. We didn’t win much. this is the difference. We don’t lose the Latin vote. We don’t win it as much as we want.

Now, can we do better? definitely. So let’s work on that, shall we? But let’s not judge ourselves on this, “Oh, man, we’re not going to win, so we’re not going to invest anymore.” And then we’ll really fail. Because guess what? If you’re not going to invest in Latinos to beat you, African Americans, and Asians, are you really going to go back to white voters who didn’t vote Democrats? I still think it’s important to talk to them, but you can’t give up on Latino voters. Because if you do, your task will become harder and harder.

Democrats can win in politics if they invest in telling Latinos where they stand

Christina Zentzen Ramirez, Democrat | Tweet embed
NextGen America President

Photographed by Christina Tzenzen Ramirez

People always ask me, “Are Latinos Republican or Democrat?” And I say, “We’re not. They were poor.” I say that whoever invests in our community and speaks about our pain and our strength will win our votes.

We are the ethnic group least likely to attend college. In the pre-Covid era, 60 percent of us were earning less than $15 an hour. We are the ethnic group in many states with the largest number of uninsured people. The policies and positions the Democrats have taken address the greatest pain for the largest number of Latino families, which is why they voted overwhelmingly for the Democrats.

the shift [toward Republicans] What I’ve seen is that Democrats take the Latino vote for granted. They need to invest their resources in reaching out to the Hispanic population about their stance on the policies that most Latinos care about.

The other thing Democrats need to do is invest in Latino youth in particular. The most common age for white Americans is 55, and for African Americans it is 27. And for Latinos, it’s 11. Much of our voting power is achieved in young and new voters. The Democrats can win this whole population, but they have to spend time and money getting to these voters, and they can’t just assume he’ll come on their side.

The number one reason Latinos say they don’t vote is because no candidate has contacted them and they don’t know who to vote for. The data is very clear that there is a lack of investment. 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 move on.

I’ll give you an example: in South Texas, which is a very traditional Latino, Bernie Sanders won The 2020 Democratic primary because he spent millions of dollars, time, and energy with volunteers, going out and reaching out to the Hispanic population. …and then overall, Trump made big gains because the Republican Party spent time and money reaching out to Latino voters.

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

Treating Hispanic voters like “norms”

Rui Teixeira, Democrat
Non-resident Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the forthcoming bookWhere did all the Democrats go? Party spirit in the age of extremism

Photographed by Roy Teixeira

Democrats will do well with this population by moving to the center on a variety of social and cultural issues, from crime and immigration to ideological approaches to race and gender, assuring voters that, in fact, everyone is free to believe what they want to believe. …we are a national party. We think America is basically a good country, not a racist one, and generally does a lot of signals, “Hey, we get that, we understand you’re a normal voter, we understand what you want. We understand what you feel comfortable with.” And we Democrats are willing to draw some lines in terms of the necessity of public safety, in terms of border security, in terms of the necessity of keeping ideology out of schools. We are a tolerant party, but we do not intend to push ideology to such an extent that it affects your children, your community or your safety.

I think this would be well received by most Hispanic voters, especially working-class Hispanic voters. This is really what they want. They want to move up, they want safe communities, they want their children to get a great education, they want quality health care.

Which brings me to another point that Democrats should stress: what they’re doing in health care. I think it is unfortunate that the reconciliation bill, although it included some elements of health care, was lost in all of its climate coverage. Climate is a low-key issue for voters as a whole, and certainly Hispanics… although Hispanics, like most other voting groups, are generally supportive of doing something about climate change. But in the real world, when inflation hits them like it is, real wages continue to fall and health care is an even bigger problem, [Democrats should] Emphasize at least the things that are a material benefit and solve the real problems that Hispanic voters, especially working-class voters, have.

3 Keys to Another Gain for Republicans with Latinos

Lorna Romero Ferguson, Republican | Tweet embed
Campaign Strategist and Owner of Elevate Strategies

Photographed by Lorna Romero Ferguson

For Republicans to continue to make gains with Latinos, I think there are three main strategies moving forward. First, we need to keep recruiting more Latino Republicans to run for office. Representation is important for any minority group. There is a different level of motivation and involvement when the person running for office is from your community, understands your culture and upbringing, and has a similar origin story to yours. …

Second, hiring more Latinos as campaign advisors and as civil servants. Latino employees provide important insights and experience for community engagement. Diverse employees can better inform candidates and elected officials about effective messaging strategies and help avoid any cultural errors (such as First Lady Jill Biden and Breakfast tacos).

Third, Hispanic outreach should be a consistent strategy deployed in non-electoral years. In order to build strong and meaningful relationships, Latin communication can’t be an afterthought during a campaign, or something done just to “check the box.” To gain real traction, outreach and relationship building efforts must be made throughout the year.

I think Republicans will make gains this year in some states but nothing seismic nationwide. 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 inform voters about the GOP platform. This election cycle may not yield huge results, but the party is investing in infrastructure, and it will be a game-changer in the upcoming elections.

Li Zhou contributed to reporting this story.

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