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Tipsheet

It Looks Like Latino Voter Outreach Out West Was Actually Quite Awful

Charles Dharapak

As with anything in life, you’re never going to bat a thousand. The GOP learned that brutally this election cycle. Given the high inflation, crime, and economic recession battering the country, I thought this would be a red wave year. Instead, voters opted not to give the GOP a full grip on power, unwilling to gamble on Congress devolving into chaos. They may not like Biden’s agenda, but nothing the Republicans were saying appeared to resonate to the degree we once thought. There is an argument to be made that the GOP proudly took the “anti-Biden” stance in this election, which isn’t enough to win. John Kerry and Mitt Romney, both of whom ran on being the “anti” candidate, know that all too well. While Republicans have gained among Hispanic voters, especially in Florida, the Democratic holds on Arizona and Nevada blew apart the narrative that the GOP was making inroads. NBC News' decent piece showed why that might be the case. 

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To be fair, while Latino voters weren’t enthused with Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), they weren’t defecting to Republican Adam Laxalt either. This development before Election Day led many Democratic operatives to worry about a dip in Latino turnout. These voters weren’t going to vote Republican, but staying home was just as damaging. After the ballots have been tabulated, we have opposing reports retconning everything said about Latinos in this region from the fall. Now, we have a new projection that Republicans could be doomed in the Southwest if their Latino outreach operations aren’t bolstered. Before you roll your eyes, read this embarrassing discovery that reporters stumbled upon in Nevada (via NBC News) [emphasis mine]: 

There’s plenty of evidence that over time, Republicans have gained ground with Latinos in parts of the country, including Florida. But in the Southwest, an inverse trend has taken hold that could have implications for 2024 and beyond.

In Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado, Latinos have stuck with Democrats, and that has helped power the party's gains across a region where Latino population growth has exploded. 

It belies a conventional narrative that Democrats were universally ceding Latino voters to the Republican Party, a story line repeated throughout the run-up to the Nov. 8 midterms. 

Instead, indicators show the GOP in danger of losing Latino voters in this region, a prospect that could mean being boxed out of the Southwest for the long term.

The Southwest was once deep-red territory. But Republicans are struggling to regain their grip. It's in part because they've alienated Latinos by taking more hardline stances, including on immigration, according to Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic strategist who was part of the party’s early team that helped develop modern strategies for reaching Latino voters. Rosenberg said the Southwest today is a far cry from what it once was under former President George W. Bush. 

[…]

Several members of the Nevada Republican Party, which is run by the national party, touted their local community center in Las Vegas, but when asked, they couldn’t identify its location. Spot visits on five occasions at different times of the day came up short: The door to the one-room, storefront office was closed. 

When NBC News finally found it open and walked in, it was mostly an empty room, aside from a staffer seated at a table with a puppy that wandered over and had an accident on the floor. The staffer appeared startled by a visitor, then directed the reporter to another location to ask questions. At that location, another staffer offered a phone number for an official who did not respond to a request for comment. The site has, however, hosted events around the election, including for ultimately unsuccessful GOP Senate candidate Adam Laxalt. 

[…]

Still, there’s plenty of danger signs for Democrats when it comes to Latino voters, particularly among men. Dan Sena, whose firm Sena Kozar Strategies was involved in Spanish- and English-language ads as well as strategy for races across the Southwest, said if there’s erosion within the Democratic Party, it is among Latino men.

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I’m not sold on the ‘if we lose a certain demographic, were dead politically forever’ narrative. Who knew that Miami-Dade County would shift red, spearheaded by Donald Trump’s presidency? Public opinion is shiftable sand—every voter is gettable with the suitable climate and messaging. And if this truly was the GOP’s outreach operation in Nevada, a barebones, boiler room-like operation that Sal Goodman would proudly represent, then we deserve to lose.

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