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Latino Voters Are Up For Grabs-- A Healthy Sign

Mike Madrid is supposed to be the Republican-- or now, "ex"-Republican? or back to being a Republican? who knows!-- with the expertise on Hispanic voters. His brilliance sure didn't work in California where he was the political director for the state Republican Party, continuously failing in his clownish efforts at Latino outreach strategies. He's a one of a kind so he has monetized his inflated reputation. He's an anti-Trump Republican and briefly worked for the Lincoln Project. He's on boards and gets jobs teaching and lecturing. Today, the GOP consultant-for-hire wrote in a Times OpEd that "Democrats working to save their slim majority in the House in November’s elections have been sounding alarms lately over research showing that Republican attacks on culture-war issues are working, particularly with center-left, Hispanic and independent voters. Hispanic voters, many of us alienated by progressive labels and mottos like 'Latinx' and 'defund the police,' have been drifting rightward as Donald Trump marginally increased the GOP Hispanic vote share in 2016 and again in 2020."

Vox reported last year that a report by the Democratic data firm Catalist, "the number of Latinos who cast votes increased by 31 percent from 2016 to 2020, accounting for a 10th of the electorate. A comfortable majority of Latinos-- an estimated 61 percent-- supported President Joe Biden, but there was about an 8 percentage-point swing toward Trump, based on data on votes cast for either the Democratic or Republican nominees in 2016 and 2020. The data shows that many Latino voters, who represent the fastest-growing share of the electorate, are not firmly part of the Democratic base. Instead, they seem to be persuadable voters, presenting a potential opportunity for both Democrats and Republicans. This is especially true for voters who aren’t hyperpartisan: new and infrequent voters, as well as people who flipped their votes in 2020 or who decided to sit the election out entirely.

Yesterday Marc Caputo, reporting for NBC News, wrote that despite all the hype, "the GOP’s growing support among Latinos is less dramatic than some headlines suggest, [citing] a new poll conducted by a top Latino Democratic pollster and underwritten by a conservative Spanish-language network. About 48 percent of Hispanics nationwide consider themselves Democrats, and only 23 percent identify as Republican, the poll found. Hispanic voters give President Joe Biden a positive job-approval rating, 48 percent to 29 percent, in contrast to disapproval of 54 percent to 44 percent among registered voters overall in the most recent NBC News poll."

Despite that, Madrid-- the Republican Party consultant-- wrote that "Democrats now understand that they are losing support among Hispanics on culture as well as pocketbook issues, leaving little in the message arsenal for the party’s candidates to stanch what appears to be a long-term bleed. The Democrats’ problems with Hispanics are especially glaring when you consider that Republicans are not exactly flawless when it comes to appealing to these voters. Both parties have committed a mind-boggling form of political malpractice for years: They have consistently failed to understand what motivates Hispanic voters."

His theory is that "the rightward shift of these voters is happening despite Republicans’ best efforts, not because of them. In the eyes of some on the American right, Hispanics are hyperreligious Catholics or evangelicals and entrepreneurial, anti-Communist social conservatives reminiscent of the ethnic white voters of yesteryear. To some on the left, we’re seen as angry, racially oppressed workers of the cultural vanguard who want to upend capitalism while demanding open borders. While none of these caricatures are accurate, in them there are enough grains of truth to lull self-righteous partisans on both sides into believing that they may be on the winning side of the emerging ethnically pluralistic American majority."

In our current era of negative partisanship, voters are motivated as often to oppose the party they dislike or view as extreme as they are to support the party with which they align. Latinos, of course, are no different, and it is at the cultural extremes where Democrats face the greatest threat of losing what they have long viewed as the foundational base of their long-term majority prospects. As “culture” grows as a proxy for “race,” the electoral math for Democrats will most likely get bleaker as political campaigns continue as referendums on “critical race theory” and “defunding the police.” It will be worse still if Hispanics increasingly do not view themselves as an aggrieved racial minority.
This understanding will help determine which party controls Congress and the White House, beginning with the 2022 midterms. Under newly drawn district lines, four of the most competitive House seats will have Hispanic populations of at least 38 percent and are in California, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. Additionally, Hispanic voters will be essential components of Senate and other statewide contests in Arizona and Nevada. The Latino voters in these states and districts are important for both parties. As the Democratic Party drifts away from its working-class roots and emphasizes cultural issues, Republicans are well positioned to pick up these politically untethered voters and with them the reins of power.
...The Democratic Party is losing its brand among white working-class voters and Hispanics. This is especially pronounced among Hispanic men and Hispanic non-college-educated voters, who are trending more Republican, just as their white non-college-educated peers are. Latinos are increasingly voting similarly to non-college whites, perhaps because they don’t view themselves as all that different from them. Pew Research studies on Hispanic identity have shown that fully half of the country’s Hispanics viewed themselves as “a typical American”; fewer identified as “very different from a typical American.”
For all the discussion about diversity within the Latino community and the now trite adage that the community is not monolithic, in fact what unites most Hispanics is that they are an important share of the blue-collar non-college-educated work force, and their presence in the labor force is only growing. The essential workers of the pandemic are disproportionately Black and Latino, and as a decidedly younger demographic, Hispanic workers are filling the manufacturing, agricultural and construction trades in states with large Hispanic populations.
Democrats have increasingly become a party shaped by and reliant upon white voters with college degrees. Compared with 40.1 percent of white adults age 25 and older, only 18.8 percent of Latino adults in that age group have a bachelor’s degree. Latinos are and increasingly will be a key part of the blue-collar work force, and their politics are reflecting that.
From Hispanics’ 71 percent support for President Barack Obama in 2012 to 66 percent for Hillary Clinton and 59 percent for Joe Biden in 2020, Democrats find themselves slowly but measurably losing hold of Latinos, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate. As Latino voters grow in number in key battleground states, they are increasingly rejecting the minority construct promulgated by the media, academia and Democratic politicians and consultants.
The party that is able to express the values of a multiethnic working class will be the majority party for the next generation. As we continue to watch the country’s culture war increasingly divided by education levels, it is quite likely that Latino voters will continue to trend, even if marginally, into the ranks of Republican voters. The country stands on the precipice of a significant political shift. As President Ronald Reagan once quipped, quoting a Republican nominee for sheriff, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me.”

Joaquin Vazquez is an activist far removed from Mike Madrid's world, and, now, the progressive Democrat running against a corrupt political hack, Juan Vargas in the San Diego area. Vazquez read the NY Times piece and told me that "The attempts by the GOP to sway Latinx/Hispanic voters seem to always be based on outdated data, focusing on decades past, in which our communities still held more moderate and conservative views, but such values-changing patterns are not exclusive to us. Every single demographic in the United States has gone through this phase. That said, let's look at the 21st century's progressive movement and who the faces of it are. Other than Senator Bernie Sanders, we have BIPOC powerhouses leading the movement across the country with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush on the frontlines as elected officials. On the not-yet-elected movement side we have more influential powerhouses like Nina Turner, Jessica Cisneros, and recently Gregorio Casar, to name a few. The latter two championing progressive policies in Texas, the most prominent conservative state in the country. Now, without, going too far from my zip code, here in hometown of San Diego we've been known as the conservative south, yet, the progressive beliefs and values of the Latinx/Hispanic community is what delivered Bernie Sanders the victory here and arguably in all of California. What this showed was not that my community is necessarily too conservative, but that what has been lacking in the Democratic Party's platform are policies that also prioritize us, for us to feel inspired enough to turnout to vote. The truth of the matter is that both establishment parties continue to mainly cater to affluent and middle-class white Americans, and that right there is the prime reason why brown people do not come out to vote. We are intentionally left out of the process. Out of the conversation other than to shift the blame to us and lable us as apathetic, and not civically engaged."

"At the end of the day," he continued, "our communities have been displaced from our war-torn countries, fueled by corruption, where we've seen the West destroy our economies to manipulate the masses and steal our resources. So if you truly want to know what the Latinx/Hispanic community wants, I'll sum it up in one word: liberation. If there's a lesson that stands out from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary is: include us in the process, and actually deliver on progressive policy aimed at liberating and uplifting our communities, and we will deliver you the win in elections."

David Ocampo is the progressive candidate standing in the way of Bob Menendez's unaccomplished son who thinks he can, with the blessing of the corrupt establishment, waltz into the open New Jersey House seat that Albio Sires is leaving. "The idea that the Latino community is shifting to Republicans isn't backed by data and the Democratic Party should stop listening to consultants who are completely out of touch with everyday Americans," he told me this evening. "Working class Hispanic families aren't sitting at the dinner table ranting about 'LatinX.' Any 'shift' in Hispanic votes isn't a preference change-- it's a turnout problem. New Jersey’s 8th District is majority-Hispanic and I speak to voters every day. They aren't switching to the party led by a man who called them 'drug dealers' and 'rapists.' They're wondering why they should vote at all when the representatives they elected aren't delivering for them. That’s why we can’t keep making excuses or pointing fingers. Democrats need to be doubling down on issues like immigration reform, affordable housing, and tuition-free public college."

Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee, currently a candidate for the open seat Karen Bass is giving up in L.A. After reading the Times piece, he told me that "It is insulting to think that Latino/a, Latinx, Chicano or Hispanic voters make up their minds about who to vote for based solely on labels. Both parties are failing at inspiring enthusiasm because they are failing to address the continued structural impacts on families as a result of the #covid-19 pandemic. Latino/a/Latinx/ Chicano/ Hispanic US residents (along with Indigenous and Black populations) were the primary populations who lost their jobs, who got sick and who disproportionately died over the last three years. What will win or lose the midterms for the Democrats is their ability to communicate that they understand these struggles, the huge scale of the impact of the pandemic on these communities, AND, even though we haven't heard a peek on the subject for some time, a commitment to move forward with immigration reform with a clear path to citizenship."


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