Thursday, October 1, 2020

Latinos Warn Democrats That Beating Trump Will Not Be Easy

Louise Brown walks down King Street during a Black Lives Matter march, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. The event honored the Emanuel AME Church shooting victims. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Donald Trump’s impending nomination has Democrats thinking they have a good chance in retaking the House in November. Yet, civic engagement organizations that work with Latinos are cautioning Democrats that they will still have to work hard to secure their votes to win down-ballot races, even with a nominee at the top of the ticket who regularly says rude things about them.

As fastest-growing group of voters in the country (according to the Pew Research Center), the number of eligible Hispanic voters has grown 17 percent since 2012, to 27.3 million eligible voters in 2016. But Rafael Collazo, the national political director for the National Council of La Raza’s Action Fund, stated his concern, “As much energy as there is, and as much commitment as there is in the work that we do around electoral organizing, there still is going to need to be investments made,” he said. “Rhetoric, and headlines, and the initial energy we’ve seen around naturalization and voter registration in the beginning of this year doesn’t mean anybody can take the Latino vote for granted.”

Democrats would need to capture 30 additional seats to gain a majority in the House, which is a tall order considering they gained just 21 seats when now-President Barack Obama beat Sen. John McCain by seven points in 2008. That’ll be a though feat against incumbents in potentially competitive districts haven’t been as hesitant about Trump. Jeff Denham, who represents a California district where more than 27 percent of registered voters are Latino, has said he would support the Republican nominee. And Rep. Cresent Hardy (Nevada), with fifteen percent of registered voters in his district being Latino, has said that the businessman’s tone toward people of color doesn’t bother him.

“Trump has the potential of being a motivating factor,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the NALEO Education Fund, but “people need to be informed that there’s more than just the presidency on the ballot.” “This is where voter mobilization, voter education, is so key,” he added. “If you want to get people to vote in down ballot races you have to invest resources in making sure people understand that, and what their choices are, and not just thinking that if they’re going to vote against Trump they’re going to get to the end of the ballot,” past the presidential candidates.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is already setting up a shadow general election campaign infrastructure in states like Nevada, Florida and Colorado. But Latino-oriented organizations are frustrated that resources for their voter engagement efforts are scarce outside those states, though only a quarter of the Latino electorate lives in the traditional presidential battleground states. Latino voters have had issues in the past of being ignored and a lot is going to have to be done in order to make sure their voices are heard in order to put up a fight in the upcoming elections.

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