There is no doubt that Latinos will make an impact during the 2018 midterm elections whether it’s at the polling booth or running for office. Latinos are America’s largest minority group, surpassing black people as a percentage of the population, and statistics show they tend to vote Democrat. According to the Pew Research Center, over 29 million Hispanics are eligible to vote in 2018 and make up 12.8 percent of all eligible voters, which are both new highs. But what does this really mean if more than half of Latinos don’t go out and vote?
The Latino voter turnout rate in midterm elections has declined since 2006 reaching a record low of 27 percent in 2014.
During the last midterm cycle in 2014, Latinos didn’t make much of an impact at the polls as there was only a 27 percent voter turnout rate, which was a record low. Dan Sena, Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), hopes that 2014 was a learning lesson for Democrats that showed Latinos need more than just likable candidates to go out in vote.
“What we saw in the previous midterms was a lack on engagement on behalf of voters that may have been due to several factors including building relationships with Latino voters,” Sena says. “It may not have been a priority in the past but this time around we want to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The DCCC is hoping to energize Latinos this year and not only get them vote but get them engaged in the political process.
The DCCC has put $30 million behind TV ads, mailing info and door to door campaigning in hopes of energizing Latinos and young voters to come to the polls. Their digital ads, which are Spanish language, have aired on Univision, Telemundo and other stations in eight large media markets including New Mexico and Texas. Sena says the organization began its campaign five days after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. Sena feels that young voters will play a crucial part in whether Democrats can win back the house.
“Latino voters are looking to connect with Democratic candidates that stand on issues like affordable healthcare, education and jobs,” Sena explained. “We have spoken to many Latino families and these issues are a priority in many of their households.”
He feels that one of the biggest misconstructions of Latinos is that they don’t vote in as big numbers as other groups. Yet Latino voter engagement is one of the lowest among all minority groups in the United States. Sena says by getting to build these one on on relationships with Latino voters, the DCCC is getting to know what issues really matter to them.
According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos are more engaged in the 2018 midterms than prior elections.
@NALEO: More than 7.8 million Latinos are expected to cast ballots nationwide this year. This would mark a 15% increase in turnout and 6.9% increase in the Latino share of the vote from 2014. #election2018 #LatinoVote #VeYVota pic.twitter.com/vKeK88mjTe
— Andrés Tapia (@AndresTTapia) October 30, 2018
According to The Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Latino registered voters say they have given the coming November midterm elections “quite a lot” of thought. That is a 16 percentage point increase from what they said about the last midterms in 2014. With that in mind, the DCCC hopes that interest will lead to votes on November 6. The DCCC has targeted 111 House districts this year which includes 29 where at least 10 percent of the eligible voters are Latinos. The hopes are that these votes lead to gaining at least 23 House seats and the majority in the House, currently controlled by the GOP.
Javier Gamboa, a spokesman for the DCCC, says that the organization has conducted a number of focus groups across the country, focusing on Latino voters who usually skip midterm elections, and have launched digital on real issues that affect hardworking Latino families.
“Our mission is to engage voters on issues that they care about and remind them of the power of their vote,” Gamboa says. “With all the backing and money we’ve put fourth, it will be Latinos that will be essential in flipping the House.”
Who are Latinos excited about in the 2018 midterms?
Latino outreach requires early investment, and while many are just realizing how critical our votes are, we applaud the @dccc who committed early to invest in Latino voter engagement in districts across the country. https://t.co/HrEzktUXuv
— Latino Victory (@latinovictoryus) October 13, 2018
Sena says that this election cycle has seen some of the highest Latino participation than in recent memory and there has already been a great turnout when it comes to mail-in ballots. He says that candidates like Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico, Gil Cisneros in California and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in Florida are in tight races. Latinos can make a huge impact with their vote in these key races, according to Sena.
The DCCC’s TV ads will be airing in these districts but what makes these commercials different then your usual political ad is that they’re not designated for that local area. The ads touch on values that are important to the Latino household like health, family and jobs that aren’t specific to one state but the entire Latino vote.
“Our battlefield is big and diverse. We got an amazing young crop of candidates because there is a desire for change,” Sena says. “People are asking who’s going to share our values and our concerns. This election is a chance for Latinos to go out and make their voices not only heard but make them count.”