Latino Votes Seen as Ripe for the Picking in 2024

Political analysts say Republicans must start campaigning on issues outside of their ‘traditional wheelhouse’ if they expect to obtain a larger margin of victory with Hispanics, specifically young voters.

AP/Eric Gay
Latinos are now the second-largest voting bloc in the country, and both parties battle to woo them. AP/Eric Gay

Despite failing to generate a mighty red wave on November 8, Republicans are aiming to build on the inroads they made with Latino voters in future campaigns, including the 2024 presidential election. 

Political analysts say Republicans must start campaigning on issues outside of their “traditional wheelhouse” if they expect to obtain a larger margin of victory with Hispanics, specifically young voters. To attract support, politicians of both parties must also be cognizant of the differences among various Latino communities. 

“Latinos are ready to be reached out to,” the president of an organization that mobilizes Latino voters, the Libre Initiative, Daniel Garza, told the Sun. “I think one of the most important things Republicans need to do is become even more familiar with the community.”

Latinos are now the second-largest voting bloc in the country, and both parties battle to woo them by running Spanish-language television ads and hosting events directed at the Latino community as part of their campaign strategies. 

The November 8 results showed that by and large Latinos still vote blue. Yet, Republicans seized on a trend they believe is eroding support for Democratic candidates. 

“All signs point to a shift among Hispanics, and it’s very promising for the future of the Republican Party,” a GOP communications strategist, Giancarlo Sopo, told Politico. 

During the midterms, Hispanic voters saw the second-largest shift among minority voters. Support for Democrats dropped 9 points since the 2018 elections — and 21 points among Latino men — and 5 points since the 2020 elections, according to Politico. 

In Florida, 58 percent of Latino voters backed Governor DeSantis, making him the first Republican governor since 2002 to win in the state’s largest county,  Miami-Dade, which has a large immigrant population. Senator Rubio, meanwhile, won with 56 percent of the Latino votes. 

In Texas, Governor Abbott earned 42 percent of the Latino vote during this election, an increase from the 35 percent he recorded in 2018, according to AP VoteCast. 

According to Mr. Garza, Republicans must use their triumph in the House of Representatives to “position themselves as a very appealing party” for Hispanics as the 2024 elections approach. 

“It’s their opportunity to connect, to be relatable, relevant,” Mr. Garza told the Sun. 

In the House, five Latino Republicans flipped Democrat-held seats. “These are five new ambassadors that should be put to work right away on behalf of the GOP in their outreach to the Latino community,” Mr. Garza said. 

In Texas, Democrats ousted Republican- Latino candidates in two of three Latino districts, including Mayra Flores, who said that despite her loss “the future of South Texas is Republican,” and that the party didn’t go “backward.”

Monica de la Cruz represents one of the promising signs for Republicans’ support with South Texas Hispanics, after she was elected to represent Texas’s 15th congressional district, winning the redrawn district by 9 points.  

“The Republican party just had its best performance ever with Hispanics in a midterm election,” Ms. de la Cruz tweeted after the election results were announced. “This is a victory for every single one of us who loves the Spanish language and does not want to be called ‘Latinx.’”

In Oregon, a Republican candidate, Lori Chavez-DeRemer, made history as she turned the state’s 5th congressional district red and became the first Latina congresswoman from the state. Other winners were Anna Paulina Luna, elected in Florida’s 13th congressional district, and George Santos in New York’s 3rd.

If Republicans want to attract  the Latino vote ahead of the 2024 presidential elections, however, they must do more to address the younger demographic. During the midterms, 27 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement of Tufts University. This is the second-highest voter turnout among the group in the past three decades. 

According to the institution, young voters backed Democratic candidates across the country by a 28-point margin and were key in contests such as Pennsylvania’s Senate and Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race. 

“Republicans have a young Latino voter problem,” Mr. Garza said. The younger age groups, he added, are constantly exposed to liberal institutions, such as universities with left-wing professors, and Spanish-language television that tends to be center-left.

According to the Harvard Youth poll, inflation, abortion rights, health care, gun policies, immigration, and crime are among the top issues for young voters. 

“For decades, the GOP assumed that their policies and ideas would magically reach young Latino voters,” Mr. Garza said. “They didn’t, so message reach has to increase.”

Yet, the Latino population in America is extremely diverse and parties must understand the complexity in order to attract their votes, according to political analysts. About 58 percent of Cuban registered voters identify with the Republican Party, while 65 percent of Hispanic voters who are not Cuban identify with the Democratic Party, according to a Pew Research Center study

The Republican Party’s success in Florida was mainly driven by Cubans, as its counties are home to 60 percent of Cuban voters in America. According to the Brookings Institute, their top voting issues for the 2020 presidential elections were the economy, health care, and violent crime. On the other hand, Puerto Ricans are more likely to be Democrats, and the think tank found that their top voting issues were discrimination, immigration, and job creation. 

In contrast, Latino voters in Arizona are predominantly Mexican, and according to the think tank they are more likely to have had a “recent experience with immigration to the United States.” In the 2020 elections, more than half of Arizona Latino voters voted for President Biden. 

The Latino community is sometimes “misunderstood,” and is a “very heterogeneous and diverse” group, a Northwestern University professor, Jaime Dominguez, said. Certain aggressive messaging that might work for Cuban Americans might not work with Latino groups based in other parts of the country, he added.  

The director of civic engagement research at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Dorian Caal, agrees, telling the Associated Press that the parties must be cautious about making assumptions regarding the Latino population.

“It really comes down to not taking the Latino vote for granted,” Mr. Caal said. 

The New York Sun

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