Washington, DC – This weekend, the New York Times released a national Latino voter poll, touting in the headline, “Majority of Latino Voters Out of G.O.P.’s Reach, New Poll Shows.” The NYTimes and Siena College poll found Hispanic voters nationally favored Democrats over Republicans by a 56-32% margin on the generic congressional ballot question.
While Democrats have the advantage, the Republican Party is predicting it will cut into that margin and make inroads with Hispanic voters – especially in select regions of the country such as South Florida. Some of the loudest voices making the case for GOP appeals to Hispanic voters are also expressing solidarity with those fleeing from “oppressive environments” in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Michelle Hackman highlights data that show, “more than three times as many migrants from those countries arrested so far this year as at the same point in 2021,” at the U.S. southern border, driven, per the article, by “a combination of political repression and economic hardship.”
Yet the supposed GOP appeal to Latino voters and purported support for those fleeing Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua is flying headlong into the dehumanizing political relocations perpetrated by Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott, and other Republicans trying to inject immigration back into the headlines and stoke the MAGA base crowd. The hypocrisy and blowback is fierce and could hurt Republicans in the midterms, as leading observers are highlighting:
As Rafael Bernal covers in The Hill, “Democrats think GOP governors may torpedo Republicans with immigrant moves,” quoting America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry: “DeSantis and Abbott thought they were going to put immigration on the ballot, but what they’ve done is reinforce the Democrats’ message regarding MAGA extremism.” Bernal also highlights the reaction from two leading Latino Democrats who recognize the political implications:
- Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL): “The moment I read that it was Venezuelan and Colombian refugees, I realized this was an absolute disaster for Governor DeSantis. Not only is it inhumane, but these are two key voting groups in Florida that we are vigorously contesting between the parties.”
- Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who chairs the CHC campaign arm, Bold PAC: “Republican Governors DeSantis and Abbott as well as Latino Republicans are creating confusion to divide the country and distract from their lack of solutions on the top issues for working families … This is the same tired, failed GOP playbook. Every time an election comes around, Republicans try to politicize immigration. They tried this in 2018 with caravans and it didn’t work for them — Democrats won by the largest margin in midterm history.’”
South Florida Republicans especially are on defense. Last week, we highlighted that on the very same morning that Ron DeSantis sent chartered flights of Venezuelans to Martha’s Vineyard under false pretenses, a contingent of South Florida Republicans (Senators Rubio and Scott, and Reps. Diaz-Balart, Salazar and Giménez) held a press conference in front of the White House calling on the Biden administration to support people fleeing from “some of the world’s most oppressive environments” in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Senator Rubio noted without irony, “We need real leadership and real solutions.”
The following is a statement from Vanessa Cárdenas, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
Republicans are using desperate people seeking safety and security from Venezuela as dehumanized political pawns while touting their party’s increased appeal to Venezuelan-American voters and purporting to support those fleeing from ‘oppressive environments’ in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
The vile stunt by DeSantis – defended by the entire GOP – is an obvious attempt to refocus attention on immigration and the border for the ‘22 homestretch – Caravans 2.0 – and play to a xenophobic element within the MAGA base. Yes, there are real voter concerns about border issues and real needs for solutions to address those fleeing from increasingly failed, socialist states in Latin America. But voters outside the MAGA base – including Latino voters in Florida and beyond – are recoiling from the brazen hypocrisy, trickery, deception and cruelty on display that is embedded in the GOP’s pursuit of political power.