The power of the Latino vote will once again be key in the mid-term legislative elections in the United States. In 2020, their mobilization was historic, mainly to prevent the re-election of Donald Trump. However, with Trump further out of the equation and with a Biden who has not been able to seduce most of the electoral minorities, the Latino vote will be guided mainly by the economy. That’s bad news for Democrats. Most believe that things are not going well.
What most worries Latinos in the United States is the economy, the option chosen by 62%, according to a survey conducted for EL PAÍS and the George Washington University. It worries them much more than the average population. With runaway inflation and rising interest rates, that’s bad news for Democrats. Although the labor market is close to full employment, the rise in the price of gasoline, food and almost all products weighs on the spirits of citizens, since it affects the population in a generalized way.
Although Latinos still believe in the American dream, 46% believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 30% who are optimistic, according to the survey, presented at a seminar at George Washington University.
The survey reflects a majority rejection of Trump and divided opinions regarding President Joe Biden among Latinos. 61% do not like the former president, 49% consider him a racist and 31% think he is “bad for Hispanics.” In the case of the current president, 30% of the Hispanics surveyed consider that “he is having a poor performance”, 27% affirm that “he tries, but the Republican Party will not let him” and 28% agree that “he is doing a good job”. The Hispanics most critical of Biden are those whose dominant language is English, indicating that they are at least second or third generation immigrants. Among them, 38% consider that their performance is poor.
Biden and Hispanics
Although Latinos still believe that the Democratic Party cares more about them than the Republican, the economic factor may weigh on the vote, without the mobilization factor that Trump supposed. “In the 2020 presidential elections, Biden did not win, Trump lost. But Biden has not been able to take advantage of how well presidents like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George Bush and Ronald Reagan did to win over the Latino vote. He needs to understand Latinos more, despite the fact that he has Latino positions in his Administration, ”says César Martínez, advertising consultant, media and marketing politician with more than 25 years of experience, who has worked in the last five presidential elections.
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Martínez was part of the so-called Lincoln Project in the 2020 elections: “Our job was to find those conservative voters that we were looking for so much for a long time for the Republican ranks and tell them that this time they should abstain or, with their eyes closed, vote for a Democrat,” he explains.
Héctor Sánchez, executive director of Mi Familia Vota, an organization that promotes voter registration and political participation among Latinos, also admits that the 2020 campaign was special: “We ran the most aggressive campaign and had a massive mobilization.” “Latinos and minorities in this country saved this democracy from extremism,” he affirms emphatically.
Sánchez denounces the difficulties for the vote that exist in the United States and that especially affect Latinos. From the elections being on a weekday and often involving large queues, to the complicated registration process, especially in some states. “In general, it is not understood how difficult it is to vote. Despite that, you can see a historic growth and that highlights even more the importance of the Latino vote in defining the future of this country, ”he explains.
Like him, consultant and activist Janet Hernández believes that Latino participation will also be high in the November 8 elections, but denounces that the voter registration requirement and other restrictions “produce a result of voter suppression” and that “Laws are being passed that make it even more difficult to exercise that right.”
Despite this, in his opinion, “the community is already mobilizing.” “Latinos have been greatly affected by the pandemic and this is going to push people to go out and vote,” she says.
Martínez, Sánchez and Hernández participated last Saturday in a round table at George Washington University in which José Antonio Ortega, head of Prisa Media in the United States, presented the results of the survey carried out by EL PAÍS. According to it, 75% of registered Latino voters affirm that they will vote in the mid-term elections in November, compared to 83% who plan to vote in the 2024 presidential elections. 44% affirm that their vote is decided by the candidate and only 16% say they do it for the party.
Hernández points out that women are leading the voter registration and believes that the leak of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion can mobilize their participation in favor of the Democrats. A congressman who prefers not to be quoted considers, however, that among the predominantly Catholic Latino population, support for abortion is much lower, that Latinos are culturally more conservative and that the economy will decide the vote.
The Latino vote has traditionally been Democratic in the United States, but that has been changing over time and depends a lot on the State and the candidate for each election. While in California they have established Democratic hegemony, in Florida it is the Republicans who have attracted their majority vote. Sánchez points out that in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, the Latino vote will already be decisive in these elections and that in Texas it will also end up defining the political color of the state. Martínez stresses that even in others where the percentage of Latinos is not as high, they may be the ones to tip the scales.
In addition, he highlights that “it is important to participate in the legislative ones. If not, you cannot change the laws.” But he sees that the Republican Party faces them with a certain advantage: “It is easier to oppose. If the Democrats lose the House or the Senate in the mid-term elections, maybe it will give them a second thought.”
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