While President Joe Biden won the majority of Latino voters in both states, Trump’s gains among the traditionally trusted Democratic constituency were undeniable. In Florida, Trump’s stronger-than-expected performance among Latinos from all walks of life – not just Republican-leaning Cubans in America – helped him carry the state.
In Virginia, Trump was six points ahead of his 2016 performance with the Latinos, according to exit polls.
Whether it’s an anomaly or a sign of something bigger, Democrats in Virginia are taking no chances in November. The McAuliffe campaign goes to great lengths to win and engage Latinos, who make up about 11% of the state’s population.
In a gubernatorial race that has shrunk to single digits, a recent poll has found Virginia has become a testing ground for Democratic efforts to stop the bleeding ahead of the year’s crucial midterm election next.
“Serious investments are being made in educating Latinos in the Commonwealth in a way that may not have happened in 2020,” Del said. Alfonso Lopez, the first Latino Democrat elected to the State General Assembly.
“When we realized that the ‘Big Lie’ was working with a small segment of the Latin American population in other states, we made it clear that we needed to respond to them more effectively and get our message across,” Lopez added, referring to the unsubstantiated allegations by Trump and his supporters that seek to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 election.
Virginia Latino executives say they are satisfied with the way McAuliffe has handled Latino outreach since announcing his candidacy – and especially in the months following his first victory. Her campaign, which has been endorsed by more than 50 Latino leaders and major organizations, features a dedicated Latino Outreach Director who focuses on organizing communities across Virginia.
Among those at his side are revolutionary figures – Lopez, Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, the first two Latinas elected to the Legislative Assembly. Ayala is the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor this year.
They, along with the Democratic strategists who are closely following the race, are confident that the campaign’s message of how McAuliffe will handle the pandemic and economic recovery for Virginians will resonate with Latinos.
“The participation of Latinos is going to be decided by messages – about who really cares,” said Guzman, who was born in Peru. “We delivered to the state legislature. And have a [Democratic] trifecta in Virginia… if you look at our agenda, it has always been about serving the needs of the Latino community.
Last month, the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, in partnership with the McAuliffe Campaign, announced a statewide six-figure Spanish media campaign – which includes radio ads – aimed at getting Latinos to the polls. McAuliffe’s campaign also runs an online outreach program, which includes digital-first Spanish ads via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Univision and Telemundo, a campaign spokesperson said. They also run audio ads in Spanish on Pandora.
Still, there are worrying signs. A new Monmouth University poll found 53% of Latino voters said they would support McAuliffe, up from 58% in the same poll last month.
In 2013, when McAuliffe won his first term, he won 66% of the Latin American vote, according to estimates by Democratic polling firm Latino Decisions.
Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin isn’t really thriving among Latino voters. The same Monmouth poll showed he was performing well below Trump’s levels in 2020, placing Youngkin at 28%, compared to 36% for Trump in the state.
But in a race that has tightened as Biden’s poll numbers sag, any suggestion that Latin American support is lagging behind is enough to set off fire alarms among Democrats.
“Everyone’s looking at Virginia. And we have a chance to send a clear message to the country that the politics of the Trump era, the candidates of the Trump era are no longer where the country is going, ”said Jonathan Dromgoole, president of the Democratic Latino Organization. of Virginia.
Privately, Democratic strategists and some Latino Democrats closely watching the race admit they fear enough information has reached Latinos about the election – and that there isn’t enough enthusiasm to attract them at the polls.
“I think the party could always do a lot better,” said Luis Aguilar, Virginia director for CASA in Action, a Latino and immigrant organization that mobilizes voters. He highlighted the Democrats’ chronic problem engaging Latino voters consistently and not just at election time.
Still, he said McAuliffe had a “winning ticket” given the infrastructure on the ground – including canvassing and phone calls to voters – that organizations like CASA in Action have provided. In 2020, CASA in Action announced that it had made more than 200,000 outreach attempts and mobilized nearly 15,000 black and Latino voters to support Biden in Virginia.
And with just over a month to go, McAuliffe’s campaign plans to step up Latino outreach down the home stretch even further.
“The truth is that the investment in Latino outreach hasn’t been there in the past and now we’re really making sure it’s something real,” said Canek Aguirre, a son of Mexican immigrants and the first Latino to serve in the city of Alexandria. Advice. “It’s a step in the right direction.