Following the huge electoral defeat in last month's midterm elections, almost immediately Democrats began looking to recover ground lost among Hispanic voters, reports Politico
In addition to launching a campaign to raise money to support Democrat candidates in Hispanic congressional districts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently appointed Rep. Ben Ray Luján, a third-term congressman, to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in hopes of strengthening their outreach to Hispanic voters.
"You had the perfect storm: a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of movement on immigration reform and a lack of capital investment to turn people out. I think everyone is re-evaluating what went wrong to make sure it doesn’t happen again," Democrat strategist Chuck Rocha told Politico.
In the midterm elections, Democrats won the Latino vote by a margin of 62 percent to 36 percent nationally, which was in line with the 60 percent they garnered in 2010, reported the Pew Research Center
However, it is a decline from the 68 percent of the Latino vote won nationally by Democrats in 2012. As concerning to some Democratic strategists is that in some states Republican candidates won more than 40 percent of the Latino vote, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of National Election Pool exit poll data.
In Florida and in Colorado, however, Hispanic voter participation failed to keep up with growths in population trends – and Democrat expectations, according to NBC News
. And in Texas, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott won 44 percent of the state’s Hispanic vote.
President Barack Obama has made some gains among Hispanics since he announced an executive order to extend deportation protection to between 4 and 5 million people in the country illegally and increase some border security measures. According to a recent, Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Telemundo poll, his approval ratings
rose from 47 percent in September to 57 percent in the poll released last week.
Among Hispanic voters, 66 percent agreed that Obama was doing "very" or "somewhat" well addressing the concerns of the Hispanic and Latino community, compared to 30 percent who felt the same way toward Republican elected officials.
Democrats also created the Immigration Strike Team, which is a coordinated project between congressional Democrats and the White House to counter Republican efforts to push back Obama's executive action on immigration, The Washington Post reported
early this month.
The bilingual, rapid-response plan will utilize Spanish-media outlets like Univision, Telemundo and popular radio stations in targeted states to spread their message, said several aides who were familiar with the plans but weren't authorized to speak publicly about them.
The strike team will focus on raising money, running ads in specific congressional districts and raising "awareness about what Republicans are doing and saying but also politically to keep Hispanics motivated," Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe said on MSNBC's "The Rundown with Jose Diaz."
While Democrats attribute the losses in those states to a failure to get their voters out, Republicans contend it was the positive outcome of their aggressive courting of Hispanic voters.
"We had better candidates this year, who were talking about the issues that people care about and doing it in a way that did not alienate any group," Luis G. Fortuño, the former governor of Puerto Rico and member of the Republican National Committee, told The New York Times
In addition, Republicans seemed to have benefited by focusing on economic issues and other "pocketbook" concerns.
"It’s not a massive phenomenon, but Latinos identified less with the Democratic Party and a growing share identified with Republicans," Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic Research at the Pew Research Center, told The Washington Post
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