Democrats are losing their edge with Hispanic voters, and prominent members of the minority community are sounding the alarm to President Joe Biden and their Capitol Hill colleagues before next year's midterm cycle.
PUBLIC BEGINS TO QUESTION WHETHER BIDEN CARES AMID ECONOMIC WOES
Democrats no longer have an advantage with Hispanic voters when they were asked whether they would support their local Democratic or Republican congressional candidate if the midterm elections were held today, according to a Wall Street Journal poll last week.
Last year, more than 60% told pollsters they would cast a ballot for their House Democratic contender, researchers found. This month, 37% said they would make the same choice, while the same percentage would back the Republican. Roughly 1 in 5 remained undecided.
Republicans are undermining Democrats' stranglehold on the Hispanic vote as Biden's Justice Department sues states such as Georgia over its election integrity laws and Texas over its redistricting proposal, both of which it argues discriminate against minorities, according to Suffolk University Political Research Center director David Paleologos.
"With the overall Hispanic population growing at a faster rate than any other demographic in the U.S., both parties know that the 2022 midterm kingmakers could be these Hispanic voters," he told the Washington Examiner. "We've found the issue of education to be disproportionately higher among Hispanics in many of our polls, along with immigration, as well as socialist political attacks from Republicans."
Democrats are "hemorrhaging" support among Hispanics, according to Republican strategist Cesar Conda.
"Republicans can accelerate the shift among Hispanics by not only offering real solutions on education, jobs and the economy, and crime but by opposing the Democrats' big government socialism and wokeness," he said. "Hispanics are horrified that the Democrats are implementing the same kind of socialism that many of them escaped from in their home counties."
Biden’s vaccine mandates are "a huge concern" among Hispanics, who worry about their job security, according to Conda, a former aide to then-Vice President Dick Cheney and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The group broadly supports secure borders, he added.
"Recognize that Hispanics are not monolithic. Each subgroup has slightly different issue sets," the consulting firm Navigators Global partner said. "Immigration reform to legalize the undocumented isn’t a unifying issue among Hispanic populations: Mexican Americans are far more animated by immigration reform than are Puerto Ricans or Cuban voters, for example. Statehood for Puerto Rico is a top issue for Puerto Rican voters in central Florida."
The polling amplifies complaints several Democrats have about how the party speaks to Latinos and Hispanics and how the community is being represented within Biden's administration.
Some Democratic operatives are open about their concerns regarding how Republicans better identify, engage, and mobilize their base and swing voters, more generally. House Democrats' campaign arm launched a $30 million program last month targeting minorities "earlier than ever before." In tandem, their Senate counterpart has been pushing Latino-centric economic talking points, including the low unemployment rate and how 17 million children have benefited from Biden's enhanced child tax credit.
At the same time, Democrats disagree over how to refer to Latinos and Hispanics, with backlash over the White House and Democratic National Committee embracing the term "Latinx." Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Arizona Democrat who was on the Biden campaign's Latino Leadership Committee, tweeted this week that the term is relied on "largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use."
"It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias," he wrote. "It will not lose you an election but if your staff and consultants use Latinx in your mass communication it likely means they don’t understand the Latino community and is indicative of deeper problems."
To be clear my office is not allowed to use “Latinx” in official communications.— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) December 6, 2021
When Latino politicos use the term it is largely to appease white rich progressives who think that is the term we use. It is a vicious circle of confirmation bias. https://t.co/kMty6q7UQn
Beyond nomenclature, the White House has also been criticized for the lack of Latinos and Hispanics in its upper echelons.
Biden's three Latino Cabinet secretaries — Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona — have each cut different public profiles, in addition to a Cabinet-level official such as Isabel Guzman, the administrator of the Small Business Administration. Becerra, for instance, has not briefed reporters from the White House, despite the pandemic and migrant crisis.
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The four Latino Senate Democrats lobbied Biden last month to employ at least one more “assistant to the president," the White House's most senior title. The White House touted data in response to their letter that almost 45% of Biden's appointees are racially or ethnically diverse. But the White House's Office of Presidential Personnel this week added an aide tasked specifically with recruiting minority staff.