Democrats in Midterm Jeopardy Over Poor Outreach to Latinos

Democrats are struggling to secure the Latino vote in the midterm elections because the party did not engage Latino voters strongly enough.

As the White House is actively reviewing plans that could again separate migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Democratic Party had focused on gaining the support of white, middle-class voters in swing areas for the Nov. 6 elections. Politicians counted on Latinos to come out to the polls in outrage over the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

And as a result, key races in Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Florida — where Democrats need to win to take back the House and Senate — are in jeopardy.

Combined with the Trump administration’s immigration policies, the Census Bureau plans to ask people on the 2020 census to state whether they are a citizen, U.S.-born or naturalized or not a citizen. These are two pressing issues that affect the Latino community.

But “there cannot be an expectation that people are going to vote on the outrage period,” Jose Parra, head of the consulting firm Prospero Latino, told The Hill.

“You need to give voters something to vote for, not just against,” Parra said. “You can’t have the attitude that Hispanics are going to vote for us just because the alternative is horrible.

“Because there is an alternative: it’s called staying home.”

Democratic leadership didn’t heed the warning signs headed into the 2018 midterm elections. For example, a 2017 report from the Voter Participation Center and Lake Research predicted the percentages of voter decline in 2018, especially among Latinos.

It found that compared to voter turnout in 2016, the rate for African Americans was projected to drop by 30 percent and for Latinos, a decline of 36.5 percent.

“These numbers should set off ear-piercing alarm bells for every person who wants to win back the House,” civil rights attorney Steve Phillips, author of “Brown Is the New White,” wrote in a 2017 column for The Nation.

Phillips noted that the Democratic Party chasing white swing-voters is a losing strategy.

“Unfortunately, such findings frequently fall on deaf ears,” he wrote.

“A significant number of people in the leadership of Democratic and progressive politics hold the belief that the best way for Democrats to prevail in off-year elections is by moderating their politics to appeal to swing voters who may be turned off by the excesses and overreach of the party in power.”

Democrats cannot rely on anger at Trump to solve the Latino turnout problem.

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