The Democratic Party risks losing the support of Latinos and other groups of minority voters if they improve efforts to present an economic agenda and counter pro-Republican misinformation campaigns, according to an internal document assembled by Democratic interest groups.
The 73-page document - which was leaked to the New York Times and published in full - is a detailed post-mortem analysis of the 2020 election carried out at the behest of three major Democratic interest groups, including the Latino Victory Fund.
The report found that a lack of differentiation in messaging and outreach campaigns aimed at voters of color, including Latinos, cost the Democrats support in crucial areas.
In Florida, Texas and New Mexico, for example, the report from that a drop-off in support among Latino and Hispanic was a "lynchpin" in Democratic losses in those states, particularly among working class and non-college voters.
Additionally, the report found significant "misfires" for engaging Latino and Hispanic voters as a monolith and not taking into account significant differences among various sub-groups of Latino voters.
"National strategy failed to take into account regional and local differences, socioeconomic status, urbanicity or country of origin, despite higher support for Democrats among voters from Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic compared to Cuban-American voters."
The report added that "campaign messaging didn't always reflect the differing values and priorities of urban Hispanic voters vs rural Hispanic voters, much less account for what would most persuade Hispanic men in the Rio Grande Valley, oil and gas workers in New Mexico or Latinas in South Florida."
Turnout by Latino workers rose more than 30% in 2020 when compared to 2016, and was a vital part of President Joe Biden's win in states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania and Nevada, where the margin of victory among Latino voters exceeded Biden's win margin with the wider electorate.
Despite this increased Latino support, however, the Democrats saw a significant decline in certain areas with high concentrations of Latino voters, particularly South Florida and West Texas.
For example, In Texas's 3rd congressional district - which stretches from western San Antonio to just outside El Paso along the Mexican border - support among rural Latino voters shifted to the right by 13 percentage points, largely due to a higher turnout among Latino Republicans.
The report also found that Republican attempts to brand Democrats as Â‘radicals' was effective. In some districts with a higher share of Latino voters, repeated Republican campaign commentary about Â‘socialism' and Â‘law and order' caused a greater share to support the Republican Party.
Looking towards the 2022 mid-term elections and beyond, the report makes a number of recommendations, including re-imagining the Democratic message and narrative, committing to early investment in and year-round organizing, and re-allocating spending.
"It's not just about investing in key communities for Democrats," the report said. "It's also about ensuring a more equitable allocation for our resources overall."
The report also quoted an unnamed Latino elected leader as saying that "it's great that we spent more in 2020 on Latino voters than ever before. But what did we spend before?"
For months, political insiders and Latino leaders across the country have warned that the Democrats should not take support among the community for granted in coming elections.
In a previous interview with LPO, for example, Stephen NuĂ±o-Perez, an associate professor and Chair in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University, said that Latino voters "are no less impervious" than other groups when it comes to Republican messaging.
"The Republicans have always had a Hispanic base," he said. "That base is much smaller than the Democratic base, but it also makes it easier to reach out to that base, whether it be pockets in Texas or Florida, or industries that heavily draw on Hispanic labor and are perhaps in line with Republicans."
The report's call for year-round organizing also echoes that of Arizona congressman RaĂşl Grijalva, who told LPO in an exclusive interview that he believes Latino voters in his state are often "treated as an afterthought" by political organizers and campaigns.
"Organizers and campaigns with minimal ties to Arizona come around every two or four years for votes, but fail to deliver on any promises for the community or engage with them outside of election cycles," he said. "When they do engage with them - if at all - their engagement strategies revolve around stereotypical assumptions that Latinos only care about immigration. This is wrong."
Statistics released by Democratically-aligned research firm Equis Labs in April found that support among Latinos for former President Donald Trump was "more than commonly assumed" and that Republican efforts to boost support among Latino voters was partially successfully, even though as a whole the population played a critical role in the Democratic coalition that won the White House and flipped the Senate.
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