Democrats have long relied on the vote of the Latin community because of its historically consistent support of the party. However, Democrats may have to re-evaluate the amount of work that they’re contributing to their relationship with the Latin community, as many of their stances may not resonate as heavily with Latin voters in the modern day. These voters do not always agree on issues like abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and even immigration, making some more willing to vote for Republican candidates.
Many Democrats mistake the Latin community for being socially liberal; however, this is not always the case. Many Latin people consider themselves socially conservative because of their religious or “traditional” values. Socially conservative Latin people generally do not support the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights or legislation that protects a woman’s ability to abort, among other issues that Democrats have emphasized in recent years. The emphasis on religious values that many Republican candidates provide may also be more appealing to a community that tends to be more religious than other Americans and that may not want to see these issues addressed by the government.
For many Cuban Latin people especially, the idea of being anti-socialist or anti-communist is incredibly appealing. The fear of communism has long been instilled in this group of people, largely because they or their family members have likely escaped destructive political regimes that have self-identified as communist. The fear of seeing that reality repeat itself leads them to vote for Republican candidates, especially when confronted with Democrats such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders, who associate themselves with the Democratic-Socialist party. Other groups or politicians that advocate for more government spending also tend to be linked to socialism or communism by right-wing media and many Republican candidates. Many Republican fliers and advertisements cater to the fears of having
an authoritarian or communist government, with candidates committing to spurn legislation that their ultra-liberal, communist, or socialist, opponents would support. Already, these types of policies have made the community supportive of Republican candidates in recent elections, and while campaign flyers and ads are notorious for stretching the truth on both sides of the political spectrum, many of these types of phrases are almost always used to instill fear in people of the Democratic candidate, who may not even be as liberal as the fliers or advertisements say they are.
While it may seem counterintuitive for Latin people to find closed border policies appealing, many of them are afraid of the potential consequences of more relaxed immigration laws. Already, many Hispanic Texan voters worry that migrants will cross the border and disrupt their communities. The idea of gang violence coming into the country also worries some Latin voters, many of whom believe that coyotes, the people who lead migrants across the border, are dangerous or affiliated with gangs or cartels. These coyotes usually charge migrants thousands of dollars to transport them across the border, and will oftentimes try to extort them out of even more money by threatening them with death or desertion. So while the emphasis that the Democratic Party places on immigration may be important to many, there is still an aspect of the closed-border policy that appeals to many Latin people, which Democrats must do more to address.
While most Latin people still favor the Democratic Party, the party must do a better job at catering to the Latin community. More and more Latin people are becoming eligible to vote, and while there are systemic barriers to voting in many places across the United States, they are still an important community that can influence election results. However, many Democratic candidates don’t seem to have as great an interest in the Latin community, with many not even providing a Spanish-language option for their websites or other campaign materials. New York
Democrats Chuck Schumer and Sean Patrick Maloney, who are running in a state with one of the largest Latin populations in the U.S., are some such candidates who don’t even have a Spanish option on their websites. Oversights like these make it difficult for some Latin voters to do their research when they already may not have as much time to do so. These failures to connect with the Latin community, along with the lack of attention to certain concerns that the community may have, can impact Latin candidate preferences in future elections.