5 big mistakes Republicans are making with Latino voters

Ruben Nararrette
Liberal Opinion

Ruben Navarrette

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Final results of the 2022 midterm elections are still being tabulated, but two points are clear: the Latino vote stayed with Democrats and the incumbent president’s party lost the fewest seats since 2006. 64% of Latino voters supported Democrat House candidates while 33% reported voting for House Republican candidates. Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette believes five big mistakes are preventing Republicans from gaining more traction with the Latino vote.

Number one: Republicans are arrogantly assuming that it was their ideas, policies, and charming personalities that led Latinos to support their candidates, especially in Texas, where Mexican-American Tejanos appear to be warming up to the GOP. I heard one Latino political consultant say that a lot of Mexican-Americans were already “Republican-ish” and they just needed to make it official. But this wasn’t a straight up referendum between the Rs and the Ds, where the Rs came up on top with Latinos. It’s much more complicated than that.

Number two: Republicans are doing too much talking and not enough listening. They’ve conducted these focus groups, and now they’re going out there and bombarding Latinos with messaging around the three things they think my community cares about: Religion, family and hard work. It never occurred to them, apparently, to actually go out into the community get their hands dirty, and ask real Latinos what issues they care most about. We’re a social people and we respond positively to those who are social with us. We’re also a humble people and so a little humility goes a long, long way.

Number three: Republicans are having a tough time breaking up with the nativist wing of their party, which wants to end not just illegal immigration, but also the legal kind as well. These are the people who think the country is being invaded, that the U.S.-Mexico border is wide open, and that Mexican migrants bring in drugs, disease and despair. These are the folks who support Donald Trump. And they weren’t bothered when he attacked Mexicans as criminals, rapists, and drug traffickers. Those are people around whom Latinos will never, ever feel comfortable.

Number four: Republicans are not coming up with — and presenting to Latinos — workable solutions to the six issues that these voters tell pollsters they care the most about. Those are jobs, the economy, crime, education, health care, and, yes, immigration. All Republicans do is blast Democrats for wrecking the country without saying how they would fix it. That gives the impression that either Republicans don’t have solutions of their own, or they don’t have the courage of their convictions to present any solutions that they may have because, well, it could lose them votes and make them less popular.

And number five: Finally, Republicans are poised to make the same mistake the Democrats made that drove that party into a ditch with Latino voters.

Republicans don’t know much about Latinos. I mean, really, Democrats don’t know anything either. It’s remarkable how alike the two parties are, when it comes to not understanding the nation’s 62 million people who now represent one in five Americans, or even the roughly 16 million Latinos who are voting age. However, Republicans are the ones who are at the moment strutting around like a barnyard rooster having made some inroads with Latino voters in the 2020 elections. They act like there was this grand debate Lincoln Douglas style, where they squared off against their arch nemesis, the Democratic Party, and they won the debate hands down. That’s not true. Let’s see, I was just got fed up with being ignored and take it for granted by a Democratic Party. That’s too busy courting white suburban voters and firing up white women over the abortion issue. So Latinos were willing to mix it up a bit and vote for some select Republicans who they could live with because they weren’t too extreme. Not that those Republicans are that easy to find these days. See, these Republican gains with Latino voters could evaporate as early as the 2024 presidential election. That’s because Republicans are making five big mistakes. They don’t even realize it. Number one, Republicans are arrogantly assuming that it was their ideas, policies, and charming personalities that lead Latinos to support their candidates, especially in Texas, or Mexican American to hanos appear to be warming up to the GOP. I heard one Latino political consultants say that a lot of Mexican Americans were already Republican ish. And they just needed to make it official. But this wasn’t a straight up referendum between the RS and the DS, or the RS came up on top with Latinos. It’s much more complicated than that. Number two, Republicans are doing too much talking. And not enough listening. If conducted these focus groups, and now they’re going out there and bombarding Latinos with messaging around the three things, they think my community cares about religion, family and hard work, it never occurred to them, apparently, to actually go out into the community get their hands dirty, and ask real Latinos, what issues they care most about. We’re social people, and we respond positively to those who are social with us. We’re also a humble people. And so a little humility goes a long, long way. Number three, Republicans are having a tough time breaking up with the nativist wing of their party, which wants to end not just illegal immigration, but also the legal kind as well. These are the people who think the country is being invaded, that the US Mexico border is wide open, and that Mexican migrants bring in drugs, disease and despair. These are the folks who support Donald Trump. And they weren’t bothered when you attack Mexicans, as criminals, rapists, and drug traffickers. Those are people around whom Latinos will never ever feel comfortable. Number four, Republicans are not coming up with and presenting to Latinos workable solutions to the six issues that these voters tell pollsters they care the most about us their jobs, the economy, crime, education, health care, and yes, immigration. All Republicans do is blast Democrats are wrecking the country without saying how they would fix it. That gives the impression that either Republicans don’t have solutions of their own, or they don’t have the courage of their convictions to present any solutions that they may have. Because well, it could lose them votes and make them less popular. And number five, finally, Republicans are poised to make the same mistake the Democrats made that drove that party into a ditch with Latino voters for the last 30 years, roughly from 1982 to 2022. Democrats thought it was enough to scare Latinos to label the GOP as racist and market themselves as the hey, we’re not that party. It’s a lazy strategy. But for a while it was effective until it wasn’t. Now the GOP must be tempted to do the same. I hear them saying to themselves, they’ll vote for us. We’re not Democrats. Well, they must do better or they’re going to suffer the Democrats fate. Most Republicans really do think they’re the better party. If so great, it’s time to prove it. They need to be better at winning over Latino voters for the long haul. And they did do a better job of giving them a reason to stay


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