Sunday, August 9, 2020

Hispanic Turnout Lessons from the California Special Election

Last week, Jimmy Gomez was elected to replace Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), who became California’s attorney general in January. The recent special election to fill California’s empty House seat presented tough lessons about turning out Latino voters, a historically difficult task.

“There were a lot of important lessons learned here for the work we’re going to do in Texas and Florida and beyond,” said Cristobal Alex, who formerly worked for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and serves as president of Latino Victory Fund (LVF), a political group that supported Gomez.” Coming out of November 8, 2016, we’ll never sit back and take a race that we’re expected to win for granted.”

Gomez’s key challenges were voter fatigue and the potential for overconfidence; this election constituted the fourth election in four months and sixth in the past year. Latino voters are notoriously difficult to get to the polls with low participation blamed intermittently on lack of interest, language barriers and other socioeconomic factors.

“We spent a lot of time calling and knocking on Latinos’ doors, reminding them to turn in their ballot. We even texted every Latino in the district, from Jimmy, pleading with them to please send in their ballot. This was a big part of Jimmy’s win,” said Chuck Rocha, president of Solidarity Strategies, a campaign consulting firm that worked for Gomez.

For groups such as LVF and Solidarity Strategies, the Gomez election was the first post-2016 Latino-district race. It’s the first step in preparing for 2018’s midterm elections, where Hispanic candidates will run in states with more restrictive electoral laws.

The Hill Latino