The strength of the Hispanic vote will once again be critical in the US midterm legislative elections. In 2020, their mobilization was historic, mainly to prevent the re-election of Donald Trump. However, with Trump further out of the equation and Biden failing to woo minority majorities, Hispanic voting will be determined primarily by the economy. This is bad news for Democrats. Most people think that things are not going very well.
What most concerns Hispanics in the United States is the economy, which was chosen by 62%, according to a poll conducted for EL PAÍS and George Washington University. It worries them much more than the average population. Given rampant inflation and rising interest rates, this is 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 puts pressure on the mood of citizens, as it affects the population in a generalized way.
While Latinos still believe in the American Dream, 46% believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 30% optimistic, according to a survey presented at a seminar at George Washington University.
The poll reflects a majority rejection of Trump and divided Latinos regarding President Joe Biden. 61% dislike the former president, 49% consider him a racist, and 31% consider him “bad for Hispanics.” In the case of the incumbent president, 30% of Hispanics surveyed believe that “he has a bad job,” 27% say “he tries, but the Republican Party won’t let him,” and 28% agree that “he does a good job” . The Latinos most critical of Biden are those whose dominant language is English, indicating they are at least second or third generation immigrants. Among them, 38% consider their work to be poor.
Biden and Hispanics
Although Hispanics still believe that the Democratic Party cares more about them than the Republican, the economic factor could affect the vote, without the mobilization factor that Trump suggested. “In the 2020 presidential election, Biden did not win, Trump lost. But Biden failed to capitalize on how successful presidents such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan have been in winning Latino votes. He needs to understand more Hispanics, even though there are Hispanic positions in his administration,” says Cesar Martinez, an advertising, media and political marketing consultant with over 25 years of experience who has served in the last five presidential elections.
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Martinez was part of the so-called Lincoln Project in the 2020 election: “Our task was to find those conservative voters that we have been looking for in the Republican ranks for so long and tell them that this time they should abstain or, with closed Vote Democrat with your eyes,” he explains.
Héctor Sanchez, chief executive of Mi Familia Vota, an organization that promotes voter registration and political participation among Hispanics, also acknowledges that the 2020 campaign was special: “We ran the most aggressive campaign and did mass mobilization.” “Hispanics and minorities in this country saved this democracy from extremism,” he says emphatically.
Sanchez denounces the voting difficulties that exist in the United States and that particularly affect Hispanics. From weekday elections and often long queues to the complicated registration process, especially in some states. “It is not at all clear how difficult it is to vote. Despite this, there is a historic increase that further highlights the importance of the Hispanic vote in determining the future of this country,” he explains.
Like him, consultant and activist Janet Hernandez believes Hispanic participation in the Nov. 8 election will also be high, but denounces that voter registration requirements and other restrictions are “leading to voter suppression” and that “laws are being passed that make it even harder to take advantage of this right.”
Despite this, in his opinion, “society is already mobilizing.” “Hispanics have been hit hard by the pandemic and that will encourage people to come out and vote,” he says.
Last Saturday, Martinez, Sanchez and Hernandez took part in a roundtable at George Washington University where Jose Antonio Ortega, head of Prisa Media in the US, presented the results of a survey conducted by EL PAÍS. According to it, 75% of registered Hispanic voters say they will vote in the midterm elections in November, compared with 83% who plan to vote in the 2024 presidential election. 44% say their vote is determined by the candidate and only 16% say that make it for the party.
Hernandez notes that women are leading the way in voter registration and believes the leaked Supreme Court ruling on abortion could mobilize their participation in favor of Democrats. The congressman, who prefers not to be quoted, believes, however, that among the predominantly Catholic Hispanic population, support for abortion is much lower, that Hispanics are culturally more conservative, and that the economy will determine the outcome of the vote.
Hispanic voting in the United States has traditionally been Democratic, but this has changed over time and largely depends on the state and candidate in each election. While in California they established Democratic hegemony, in Florida the Republicans won the majority of the vote. Sanchez notes that in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, Hispanic votes will already be decisive in these elections, and in Texas they will also determine the political color of the state. Martinez emphasizes that even in countries where the percentage of Hispanics is not so high, they can be the ones to tip the scales.
In addition, he emphasizes that “it is important to participate in the legislative. If not, you cannot change the laws.” But he sees that the Republican Party stands before them with a certain advantage: “It’s easier to make the opposition. If the Democrats lose the House of Representatives or the Senate in the midterms, it might change their minds.”
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