While negotiations over immigration, border security and the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border continue to dominate Capitol Hill, you won’t see either party making those the top issues when trying to reach Hispanic voters.
House Republicans and Democrats alike told us they are instead focusing on kitchen table topics like the economy, health care and education to win Hispanic votes in 2024.
Some lawmakers say tagging immigration as the top issue for Hispanic voters is not only out-of-touch but outdated. Both parties are trying to change the narrative.
“When people ask me what the Hispanic issues are out there, I tell them it’s the same issues as you and I. It’s education, safe streets and jobs,” Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.) told us. “We just need to be aggressive and talk about the things we have in common.”
It’s no secret that Republicans have made the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border a central issue during this Congress, even blocking legislation this week that didn’t include more resources for border security. The border also remains a significant political liability for the Biden administration with record-high levels of illegal crossings every day.
But the parties’ strategies are in line with what polling shows: Immigration and border issues are relatively low on the list of priorities for Hispanic voters.
A November Unidos US poll of 3,037 Latino voters found the cost of living, the economy and health care were the top three issues. Immigration and border was the sixth highest-rated issue that voters cared about.
Here’s a look at what both parties are doing to reach Hispanic voters, as well as the races to watch next year.
Republican strategy: Congressional Hispanic Conference co-chairs Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) told us they’ve distributed more than $400,000 to members of their group this year.
Gonzales said they have traveled to several cities in Texas and Ciscomani’s Arizona district to raise money for incumbents through their campaign arm, the Hispanic Leadership Trust. HLT will hold another event in Dallas in February.
The House GOP Campaign arm has also recruited 11 candidates to take on Democratic incumbents. Thirty of the NRCC’s battleground districts have a higher-than-average Hispanic vote share.
Kevin Lincoln is challenging Rep. Josh Harder in California’s 9th District; George Logan will again face Rep. Jahana Hayes in Connecticut’s 5th district; former Rep. Mayra Flores is challenging Rep. Vicente Gonzalez in Texas’ 34th District; Gabe Evans is going up against Rep. Yadira Caraveo in Colorado’s 8th District; and Maria Montero is taking on Rep. Susan Wild in Pennsylvania’s 7th District.
Democrats’ view: Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.) launched the “CHC on the Road” initiative this year, connecting members and administration officials with Latino voters to tout Democrats’ legislative successes.
This year, Barragan has traveled to Florida, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona with other members of the CHC. They’ve been joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, among others.
Barragan told us she is also planning trips to Colorado, Georgia and California.
“People think, ‘Oh well, California is unnecessary.’ But we need to make sure we’re reaching out to these growing Latino populated areas,” Barragan said.
Victoria McGroary, the CHC BOLD PAC’s executive director, said abortion rights will also be top of mind for Latino voters in 2024, an issue Democrats across the country plan to run on again.
The BOLD PAC has also raised $6 million to date this cycle, far outpacing its GOP counterpart.
— Mica Soellner and Max Cohen